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Help more than a phone call away

Bill Evalt stands in front of a portion of land on his property that was washed away during the December 2007 floods. At the top of the washout on the upper right is the road that Evalt has to drive to get to his property. The road is about 30 feet above Big Beef Creek.  - Photo by Paul Balcerak
Bill Evalt stands in front of a portion of land on his property that was washed away during the December 2007 floods. At the top of the washout on the upper right is the road that Evalt has to drive to get to his property. The road is about 30 feet above Big Beef Creek.
— image credit: Photo by Paul Balcerak

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

For most residents in Kitsap County, help is just a phone call away. For a handful on Kid Haven Lane NW, however, hailing an ambulance requires at least two phone calls — one to 911 and another to a neighbor willing and able to drive that person to meet the ambulance.

Since the December 2007 floods, a number of homeowners on Kid Haven, located a short distance off NW Holly Road near Green Mountain, have been cut off from access to emergency services.

When Big Beef Creek, which skirts several sections of the road, flooded, it took out a massive section of earth and a small section of road that’s proved to be the difference-maker for residents. A roughly 20-foot stretch of road — with a steep, upward embankment to one side and a 30-foot sheer drop to the other — has been deemed impassable by Kitsap County emergency crews.

A makeshift plywood sign with the words, “Foot Traffic Only,” spray-painted in black, greets residents on the drive down to their property.

“I say my prayers everyday,” Kid Haven resident Bill Evalt said of driving the road.

Kid Haven is one of the lesser-known road washouts that occurred in December, perhaps because it’s a private road.

Truth be told, though, Kid Haven residents are some of the luckier flood victims. Combined, they were able to secure about $21,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair the road.

The rub is that repairs have been slow-going — Evalt’s been told there’s a shortage of rock supply in the county — and residents have had to perform them themselves.

“We certainly aren’t trying to sound ungrateful,” Joey Evalt, Bill’s wife, said of the FEMA funds. “I just think the county should step up a little more.”

Or maybe someone else.

Several agencies, state and local, have used the road during the years to access Big Beef Creek, Bill said, and they’ve been unwilling to help with repairs, too.

“The way I look at it ... none of the people who use the road year round want to lift a finger to help,” he said.

In response, he and his neighbors took a vote and decided to make the road “extremely private.”

“This time, we’re shutting them off,” Bill said.

The Evalts’ property sits at the bottom of the drop-off. Bill has been one of the many Kid Haven residents who’s been trying to fix the road and ensure that others — some of them disabled or elderly — have access to the help they could need.

“It seems like before the washout we always needed an ambulance down here,” he said.

He worries for his elderly parents, for a cousin who has multiple sclerosis and other residents with health concerns.

“I’m not too worried about it personally, I’m more concerned for someone who would need medical attention,” he said.

Only one call to an ambulance has happened since the road washed out. In that case, neighbors drove the person in distress up to the section of road that emergency vehicles are able to access and transferred them to the ambulance.

The Evalts recently had the opportunity to express their concerns to Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown who sat down with the couple to discuss their troubles.

Bill said he thought Brown was “a nice guy,” but the meeting yielded no real progress.

Brown was not available for comment by press time.

The Evalts also contacted Phyllis Mann, director of the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management (KCDEM), about having the road declared a county road, but were told it was too small. Mann also was unavailable for comment by press time

Despite the headaches and the work that many of the residents will have to put in personally to fix the road, the Evalts are staying positive.

There was a bit of a silver lining during the floods, after all.

“All the neighbors pulled together,” Bill said. “We never really pulled together like that.

“It was kind of a blessing, in a way.”

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