768 The Question Is.... The truth about the landslide.


Tom Garrett 2 years, 8 months ago

We can safely ignore most of the information being spread around about the terrible loss of life that occurred over in the Washington State mudslide. It only takes one fact, which has just come to light, to show where the blame belongs.

Directly on Snohomish County.


Consider just this one fact: The threat of a landslide in that area was so strong that all the way back in 2004 the County "considered buying out Steelhead Haven homes due to the risk of a deadly landslide...."

Do you know what the next sentence in that quote from the Seattle Times says?

"But there is little evidence that the seriousness of the risk was communicated to residents."

Didn't tell the residents that they, and their homes, and everything they possessed were in such danger of being carried away in a mudslide that the county was seriously considering buying the entire development?

The Question Is....

If you had lost a loved one in that mudslide what would you be saying right about now?


Tom Garrett 2 years, 8 months ago

Am I wrong, or do those facts, if true, put the blame right where it belongs?


Tom Garrett 2 years, 8 months ago

I came up with some other facts about that mudslide. Maybe they will hep you to make up your mind. Here they are:

• A 1999 report by Seattle geologist Daniel Miller filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned of “the potential for a large catastrophic failure” of the slope. That language does not appear on county maps identifying landslide hazards.

• The County emergency preparedness website offers tips on preparing for floods, wildfires, earthquakes, storms — even volcanic eruptions and tsunamis — but not landslides.

• County landslide maps, maps offering detailed information about the location of previous slides, are very hard to find — and they "come with disclaimers downplaying their own accuracy and urging users to seek verification elsewhere."

• The Seattle Times wanted to ask county officials some questions. After twice asking the Times to put the questions in writing, county officials declined to answer any of them.


Pat Randall 2 years, 8 months ago

Tom, The govt. can't protect everyone from everything. You men are always saying the govt. makes to many laws. People have to take responsibility for most things they do. Most want someone else to blame for their mistakes and then run for an attorney. When we bought our first house in Payson in 1993, the first thing I told our Realtor was I do not want a house in the trees or near them. I am in my third house and feel reasonably safe from a forest fire. There are two exits out of the subdivision to get me to Main St. or Mclane without going thru any forest. I am not on a high hill that is going to wash out from under me. I would have to go by some houses that still have the propane tanks that might explode and stop me. I am sorry for the people in Washington, but don't blame the state. If they had tried to buy the land there would have been a big up roar over that.


Tom Garrett 2 years, 8 months ago

" You men are always saying the govt. makes to many laws."

Us men are always making trouble. It's our nature. :-)

I believe in individual responsibility too. But I can't help but feel that there are times when we do some things — and buying a house can be one of them — when we just do not know enough to make a decision, and so have to rely on the word of others.

I can remember when Lolly and I were looking for a house in Pine or Strawberry. We say a little place that we both thought was just perfect, but when we went outside the real estate agent too me and turned me toward a house across the street. She didn't have to say a word. One look and Lolly and I both realized we did not want to live close to that place.

Also, I will be absolutely honest after having been through a couple of years when ashes rained down on us like snow, the sky was a dirty gray orange for a week, and you could smell wood smoke night and day. I would not have bought the house we are in. I'd have bought in Payson in a neighborhood like yours. After all, how were we to know how dangerous this place is? Nobody ever said anything about it. I never read a word in the papers in the valley. The real estate agents never mentioned it. Could I have just pulled it out of the air? No! It was what goes under the heading of "special knowledge" in a contract. I will plainly and flatly state that we were stonewalled, taken advantage of by people who knew things we did not know.

The result — thank God! — has been a life in a place we love, but I have to be honest and say I would have settled for less if I had known the truth about forest fires up here.



Tom Garrett 2 years, 8 months ago

Left to me, I would make this place (Pine) fire-safe by cutting a wide swath around the town, something some great people have been working on all the time we have been up here, and for which they have our everlasting gratitude. But I would do more. Every evergreen tree growing between the forest and the town would also be gone, eliminating what is essentially the same thing as a train of gunpowder leading from the forest to the housing areas.

You know what? Out back of my place I have four apple trees. They flourish because they are planted where they have water from the septic system. Pears and peach trees will do the same. And there are tons of other deciduous trees that do well in this area. We could replace the evergreens in towns with trees that are native to Arizona, would look beautiful, and do not need watering.

How about all the mesquites? The oaks? The black cherry? The three or four different cottonwoods. The beautiful black walnuts? The shaking aspens? The poplars? The bigtooth maples? The alders? The blue and yellow palo verdes? The ash trees? The ironwoods? The willows? And so many more!

Couldn't we live with those? Do we have to have bone dry, resin soaked pines and junipers? We live in a desert for crying out loud! Sure, we're right on the edge of the area where pines can just make it, but do we have to sacrifice our homes for them? Why not grow other native trees in towns?

Let the pines, and the pinyons, and the junipers and the cypress have the forest while we enjoy other natural Arizona trees around our homes!

What's wrong with that? Trees are trees. Shade is shade. Personally, I love cottonwoods and aspens, and I think palo verde trees are some of the most graceful things I have ever seen. And manzanita is just about my most favorite green growing thing.

Why do we sit here year after year doing nothing? Why don't we get sensible and save our homes? Why isn't there a county program?

We are surrounded by forests we can enjoy by walking just a mile or so. Do we have to live in a forest?


Pat Randall 2 years, 8 months ago

Tom, You like other people not raised in Arizona call us a desert. It is not all desert and I had two really tall Pine trees in my yard in Mesa. There are many different kind of fir trees growing down there along with the palm trees. When we lived in Tucson we went up on Mount Lemon on the 4th of July and there was snow there. We have everything in Arizona except the ocean and you can always go to big surf on Hayden Rd. in Tempe and pretend you are at the ocean on the man made waves and play in the sand. People that live here in Payson won't even clean off their own lots. It is scarey. If a fire gets started on N. Mclane it will be a disaster. There are other places too, but the people that own the property could care less and will scream the loudest when it catches fire.


Tom Garrett 2 years, 8 months ago


I'd be the last person on Earth to claim that Arizona is all desert. Anyway, whatever this place is, I love it. However, if someone had told me when I was a New York or Connecticut kid that I'd end up in Arizona I'd have told him he was nuts.

Have you ever seen a cartoon in a newspaper or magazine showing "Arizona?" It's always some guy in ragged bits of clothing crawling on his hands and knees across a sand desert past a saguaro. Most people think of this place that way, and my comment is, "Good! That way we won't get overcrowded."

This place up here is the best kept secret in the country. I don't think one American in a thousand has any idea that the Ponderosa forests exist. I often wonder why they don't, but I don't complain about it. :-)

I first learned about this place from my oldest brother, Bill. Bill came out here on a joint Army/Air Force exercise, came home, bragged about what a great place this is, came back here and bought some land over by Prescott, and would have retired here from the military, but some things from his WWII days left him in fairly bad health, and both he and his wife went to a small retirement community in Florida and died there quite young — especially young for my family. He passed away 15 years younger than his mother, poor guy.

Anyway, it was from Bill that I got the idea to pass through here on my first drive across the nation in '58. That was that! Made up my mind where I wanted to go after the Air Force.

It's odd the way you put things. It's almost like Bill is talking.

You say, "We have everything in Arizona except the ocean and you can always go to big surf on Hayden Rd. in Tempe and pretend you are at the ocean on the man made waves and play in the sand."

Bill used to say, "You can be getting a tan in Phoenix one day, drive a hundred miles north, put on your skis, and go skiing." He felt the same way about this place — that it had everything.

As to fires, I am a firm believer that the only way to be safe from a forest fire is let the forest be where it is, and the towns be where they are, and make sure the two don't meet. If we don't do that we are doomed one day to have another Dude Fire, but this time it will be right in our laps.

We need to slowly and carefully change towns and cities so that, while we can see the forest, we are not in it, and we don't make fools of ourselves by planting trees and brush that are a fire hazard. I love my little back yard with its apple trees, red leaf photinias, and all.

But the front? Might as well ask to have the house burn down, but there's no use doing anything because the rest of the trees are so close there's no escape for us when the fire comes.


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