Food bank prepares to help community should Bolt Creek Fire landslides trap residents

There are grim new warnings for residents living in the Bolt Creek Fire zone.

Emergency officials are telling folks to prepare for days or even weeks of isolation due to the threat of road-closing landslides and falling trees this winter.

The scramble for supplies will be particularly stressful for food banks already worried about feeding people this holiday season. Staff with the Skykomish Harvest Food Bank say they were already in disaster mode during the fire.

"There is no store in Skykomish," said Karen Stubrud, the food bank's treasurer. "We are in what's considered a food desert here."

When the Bolt Creek Fire hit, the Skykomish Harvest Food Bank stepped in to help those who were stuck by closures on US 2.

"People were very thankful to come in and get food," said Stubrud.

The food bank sits below an area that Karen says is still smoldering despite the rainy, cold weather. While everyone is back in their homes, the damage done by the wildfire could cut off the surrounding communities again this winter.

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"Now they are concerned about mud slides, water coming down, and those trees. A lot of them are dead and if it rains, freezes and thaws, then boom: wind comes up, and those trees can come down," said Stubrud.

King County Emergency Management officials warned residents during a community meeting Tuesday in Baring and Wednesday night in Skykomish, that residents that homes near the Bolt Creek Fire burn scar could be isolated this winter should falling debris block the highway.

"We have some pretty significant areas of concern that could block the highway... and create difficulties for you in getting around," said Alysha Kaplan, King County Emergency Management Deputy Director.

"I think it’s good we are having the meeting," said Stubrud. "Just to be prepared for what they are saying we will be facing this winter, which would be floods, mudslides, road closures."

King County officials are telling people to stock up with at least two weeks of supplies, and are providing communities with some emergency food supplies as well.

"They are planning that this could happen, and we could be just kind of stuck," said Stubrud.

Karen says the residents have learned from previous road closures. Most people in town have generators, including the food bank. She says it's set to automatically start when the power goes out.

"We’ve had that happen before, when we had the big snowstorm several years ago. Trees just came down like toothpicks, and we were completely out of power and cut off," said Karen.


Weekend rain brings needed relief to exhausted firefighters

Wildfires that have plagued western Washington aren’t out, but after a round of rain this weekend the end of this fire season is coming into view.

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Meantime, the need for food assistance has also been growing and Karen says the cost of stocking up on staples has risen due to inflation. With all the challenges, the food bank is gladly accepting donations for what's typically a busy holiday season and preparations for a potentially rough winter ahead. 

"Everybody is just kind of bracing for it," said Karen.

The Storm Season Preparation Meeting is taking place from 5–7 p.m. Wednesday at Skykomish Town Hall. On the agenda, an overview of the Bolt Creek Fire response, what to expect this winter due to the Bolt Creek Fire and winter preparedness information.