Thursday, January 13, 2005

Landslide Update 

Sadly, the death toll at La Conchita is up to 10 people, including three of the Wallet family. I can't begin to imagine Jimmie Wallet's grief and I don't know what to say except I offer my prayers.

Pieter at Peaktalk notes that in Hong Kong, steel reinforcement and a covering of concrete was used to solidify similarly unstable hillsides. There is also a Southern California precedent: driving on the Pacific Coast Highway one can see that some of the infamous Malibu hills are reinforced in this manner. I'm not sure if the procedure could be used to shore up several hundred-foot cliffs, but I'm sure something more substantial than a wall will be put into place this time. Any engineers out there know the best way to stabilize high cliffs composed mostly of loose dirt?

For those interested in contributing (if you don't have Charity Fatigue, that is) Michelle Malkin includes a list of Ventura County charities accepting donations on behalf of the victims in La Conchita. The same post has a more in-depth account of the Wallet family tragedy, and links to more information on the slide.

On a related note, virtually every single road and rail line out of Santa Barbara remain shut down due to the storm. As of Thursday, there is only one main highway out of town, leading north. The Santa Barbara News-Press* tells the story of a high school coach trying to get home:

Bishop Diego high school basketball coach David Whittington went far out of his way to get home to Ventura to his pregnant wife, Cynthia, who wasn't feeling well.

He left Santa Barbara at 1 am Tuesday and drove up through Paso Robles to get on Interstate 5 south. It took him six hours through the heave rains and a little snow, but he made it home -- just as well because his wife went into labor Tuesday night.

Santa Barbara to Ventura is normally a 45 minute drive (30 minutes if you watch out for the California Highway Patrol). I guess babies have no interest in waiting for a more convienent time to make their entrance.

* I was unable to supply a direct link to the SB story, since the News-Press is the only paper I know that has a policy of charging to read the majority of their non-archived stories, unless you already receive the paper. I read the first half of the story off the PDF copy of the January 12th front page. I'm not paying 60 bucks a year to them, and I'll rant about this irritation at a point in the future.

On the "Any engineers out there know the best way to stabilize high cliffs composed mostly of loose dirt?" Nope, and as a person who knows just a "little" about Geology, I say let them fall. It is as nature intended. People should have known that this would eventually happen in a reclaiming part of an ocean edge. Just like anyone knows that they should not live on the ocean edge of Daily City with all of the earth quakes. They live on unstable ground, they take the risks of living there. They should have to pay the price when it goes to hell in a handbasket.

When I lived in So Cal, I waded in ankle + deep water more than once, walking to and from class during the school year. I also slogged 5km on a forced march out of a ROTC "field excercise" during the worst deluge that Camp Pendelton had in 1998. You never saw or heard me say anything about it...

--Caltechgirl's Darling Husband
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