The boulder that blocked Highway 243 from Jan. 10 to 14 said a lot about disaster unpreparedness on the Hill.
Most people around town are unaware that in 1987, the Elmore and Superstition Hill earthquakes in Imperial Valley (6.1 and 6.6, respectively) caused the 100-foot slide of a large boulder on Marion Ridge between Thousand Trails and Deer Springs Trail that would make the Dead Man’s boulder look like a skipping stone in relative size comparison.
The Banning quake of 4.1, combined with the recent rain and snows of El Niño, in my opinion, all contributed to the recent Dead Man’s boulder event.
Disaster preparedness is and has been a topic of concern for some time. However, the resulting flaws in the aftermath of this recent rock slide point out some key needs for improvement in preparedness preparation and execution.
While PCWD made an admirable attempt to provide access to town for Pine Covers, the access road created resulted in more problems than solutions, incensing locals who opposed people driving on their roads, and causing 2WD vehicles to become stuck, clogging the intended access.
This does not need to be a lose-lose, but rather an opportunity to properly prepare for a better outcome if, and more likely when, a bigger event occurs in our community.
Now is the time to examine potential slide areas, and plan and create alternative access roadways. Even if such roadways are gated, like the fire road from Marion Ridge Drive to Idyllwild Arts, gates are easily opened and these roads can quickly be plowed when highways become blocked by major rock slides.
Restricting access to vehicles capable of such back roads can be accomplished through proper planning.
And having volunteer groups with lists of folk with special needs can target help to where and when it is needed.
Let’s use the Dead Man’s boulder as an opportunity to stretch our dialog and improve our preparedness for the next event.