700 prepare to evacuate coastal town of Talolah after seawall breach
TAHOLAH, Wash. -- It's a race against the clock on the coast as workers try to repair the seawall protecting the tribal community of Taholah. A storm earlier this week caused the damage with a new storm bearing down this weekend, and 700 people are ready to evacuate.
An army of trucks is bringing in reinforcements, new rock to shore up the shoreline. Taholah depends on this seawall to keep the ocean at bay.
On Tuesday, the fierce forces of nature broke down a portion of that wall.
"Just a big loud bang is all I heard," said longtime resident Gilbert Jack. He lost his smoke house to the surf washing over the seawall.
The leaders of the Quinault Indian Nation put in an urgent call to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and tribe got an immediate response: "Yes, we'll help."
"With the new-found damage, it's a lot more urgent to be like 'all right, we need to get out here. We need to fix it now because any small event could cause substantial damage which could affect the community,' ' said Brian Stenehjem of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Dozens of dump trucks are bringing in the large rocks to repair the damage and to protect the tribal village at the mouth of the Quinault River. Tribal leaders say this is truly an emergency situation.
And with more stormy weather expected Saturday, they're going to work around the clock.
The Quinaults have made their home here for centuries and made their peace with the forces of nature. But time is running short.
"A long weekend of waiting and watching," said Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation president. "You never know. Man against nature. Who's going to win?"
The lower village where most of the people live is right at sea-level. Evacuations are ready should the new wall not be enough.
There are plans to eventually move the entire village to higher ground, but that's several years down the road.