Alpine County declares emergency for Aug. 3-4 flooding

Kurt Hildebrand / Record Courier
Debris along Highway 89 in downtown Markleeville on Saturday morning.
Kurt Hildebrand/Record Courier

“Caltrans do you have a response?” was the quote of the morning as Alpine County supervisors ratified an emergency declaration on Wednesday.

The real question is whether an emergency road completed Monday can be improved to the point where residents can use it to bypass where Highway 89 has been washed out while work is completed on a culvert that will allow the road to reopen.

Installing the culvert is a temporary fix, according to California Department of Transportation Supervising Transportation Engineer Pam Marquez speaking at the supervisor meeting.

An 8-foot diameter culvert is being inspected in Ione and will be transported to Markleeville for installation allowing Highway 89 to reopen in 2-3 weeks.

The 4-foot culvert for the Millberry Creek crossing northwest of town was being replaced when a downpour over the Tamarack Fire burn scar washed out the highway and sent mud and water into the town.

Marquez said she would consult and have an answer by Thursday on whether the old highway route could be made safe enough for some one-way traffic.

Supervisors also approved a resolution that transferred $65,000 in tobacco money to the Chamber of Commerce for distribution to residents and businesses impacted by the April 3-4 event.

Eastern Alpine Fire Chief Terry Hughes said that residents of Horsethief Circle living above Foothill Road were hoping they could get some funding for fuel as neighbors help them dig their homes out.

He expressed concern that the mountain above the cul-de-sac that begins in Nevada and ends in California might continue to slide.

Meanwhile, residents reported that Monitor Pass was closed while a film crew worked, blocking the only route between Markleeville and Gardnerville.

Sheriff Tom Minder said he would contact the crew and see if he could convince them to delay filming until the highway fully opens.

At least one Markleeville resident reported her basement was full of water as a result of the flooding.

Public Information Officer JT Chevallier said there were forms available for residents to make damage claims to Caltrans.

Community Development Director Sam Booth said a survey is on the department’s website for residents to report damage.

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