Slide kills one, destroys a home

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Local News

Mercer Lake Road partially opened (updated 11:30AM)

Mercer Lake Road reopened to one lane of traffic late this morning, with both lanes expected to open later today.

Lane County Roads Department had kept it closed after a slide came down the steep slope above it, crashing into two homes and killing one woman.

Officials have not released the name of the woman, but they said a man in the house with her escaped with minor injuries. There were also two dogs in the home, one of them also died.

Several other homes nearby were evacuated as a precaution, and access to about three dozen homes east of the slide was cut off.

Lane County Road Maintenance supervisor Orin Schumacher said the slide took out part of privately owned Chapman Road at the top of the slope.

Several other homes evacuated; Mercer Lake Road closed

An early morning mudslide destroyed one home and resulted in the death of one person north of Florence. Siuslaw Valley Fire Chief Jim Langborg said crews responded to the report of a mudslide into a home on Santa Road, just off Mercer Lake Road at three this morning.

Jim Langborg – “The home was occupied by two adults and two dogs. An adult male and a dog escaped. The adult female and one dog were found deceased.”

Three other homes were evacuated and Mercer Lake Road was closed as a precaution. Lane County Road Crews are assessing the safety of the slide this morning.

Mud, rocks and trees slammed into the back of two homes above Mercer Lake Road, two miles east of Highway 101, about 3 AM Friday, Dec. 18th. One woman and her dog were killed. A man and a second dog escaped. (Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue photo)
Mud, rocks and trees slammed into the back of two homes above Mercer Lake Road, two miles east of Highway 101, about 3 AM Friday, Dec. 18th. One woman and her dog were killed. A man and a second dog escaped. (Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue photo)

Jim Langborg – “It was a pretty good slide. It was impressive. The view that I had from the angle that I could get to, and still be safe, I could not see the top of the slide.”

All of the evacuees were able to find temporary shelter. Meanwhile, several dozen residents east of the slide are stuck in their homes with no other way to get out of the area.

High water to persist

A flood watch remains in effect for the Siuslaw River, and high water persists, but the river has crested and is beginning to fall.

It is, however, still subject to tidal influences.

Water beneath the railroad bridge on Highway 126 at Cushman has been falling steadily over the past two hours. Traffic is being allowed through.

The Siuslaw River, just upstream from Mapleton crested at 22.4 feet early this morning. It is falling, but will likely remain above flood stage until early tomorrow morning.

Storm injured sea turtle improving

The outlook is improving for an endangered sea turtle that washed ashore at Pacific City last week.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport says the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle warmed to 68 degrees as of Wednesday… that’s up 11 degrees from when she arrived at the rehabilitation unit. The temperature must reach 75 degrees before she is ready to leave triage.

The turtle, nicknamed “lightning” was stranded during stormy weather. Her right eye was badly damaged, but she has opened it. She still has not opened her left eye.

Community Christmas Baskets

Donations of approximately $21-thousand will mean food boxes with the ingredients for a Christmas Dinner… including turkeys… will be handed out to an estimated 425 households tomorrow in Florence.

Organizers with the Soroptimist club had been concerned that the price and availability of turkeys this year would mean they would have to substitute a lower cost protein in the boxes. But a late rush of donations brought the total up and the club was able to find an adequate supply.

The food boxes, and a simultaneous gift distribution for children aged 12 and under will be held Saturday morning.

Gifts will be distributed at the Florence Nazarene Church beginning at nine AM. Parents are asked to not bring children with them. The food boxes will be handed out at the Middle School beginning at ten.

The distribution is intended for households that are struggling financially… There are no income or need verifications required.

February session set for lawmakers

State Representative Caddy McKeown (McKuen) says she and other lawmakers are getting ready to return to Salem for the 2016 session. It opens February 1st and when they meet in even numbered years, it’s limited to just 35 days.

Caddy McKeown – “Normally the short session is the fixit session to wrap up details from the long session, adjust budgets. Normally we don’t do a lot of heavy lifting in the short session but I do see some bills coming that are going to be interesting for us to work on.”

McKeown doubts that there will be any comprehensive transportation package this time around, but there will be conversations and possible action on housing, minimum wage, corporation taxes and more.