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A moving day on Taylor Road

Taylor Road residents were given one hour on Friday, Jan. 11, to pack up everything and move out.

It was Taylor Road residents’ first opportunity to drive their cars since a surging Wildcat Creek knocked out the only bridge connecting them with the rest of the county on Monday, Jan. 7.

County road crews punched through a temporary road to allow construction vehicles to access the site. But for now, only construction vehicles may use the access road.

“That road won’t meet county standards,” said Doug Bear, spokesman for the county Department of Public Works. “There’s no way to meet the grade specifications, so it is not intended or designed or built for vehicle traffic.”

Roxanne Bryson and other Holly Ridge Center staffers packed up computers, chairs, trash cans, coffee pots, paper and shelves Friday as the agency prepared to move to a temporary home at the Gateway Community Family Center on Sixth and Montgomery streets in Bremerton. Helping out were members of a local off-road club and sailors from Naval Station Bremerton.

Holly Ridge provides services for developmentally disabled adults and children.

“Our building is being red-tagged so we’re not supposed to be here after today. But of all the times to be evicted, this is the only time we had someplace to go,” said Bryson, Holly Ridge’s executive director.

Since they had to leave most of their desks behind, Bryson said the county was donating tables and chairs for the Holly Ridge staff to use.

Holly Ridge, along with the nearby Seventh-day Adventist Church and Kitsap Adventist School, were red tagged Monday by the county Fire Marshal’s Office. A red tag meant the three institutions had to close down or relocate Friday morning. They were ordered to remain closed until Taylor Road is repaired.

“We’re going to provide the best possible service we can,” said Larry Miller, assistant chief of Kitsap County Fire District 12. “We just can’t guarantee it. We think we could get in here at any time, but then rain could come and wash the construction road out.”

At the nearby school, teacher Jerry Gebhardt’s classroom was nearly empty as the school prepared to move to a new site.

“We’re just packing up some boxes and we’re getting our car,” said Gebhardt, who had to leave her vehicle in the school parking lot after a near-plunge into the creek.

Residents also were advised to leave, according to county Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Jull, since fire, law enforcement and emergency medical services could be hampered by the lack of access.

Residences were marked with yellow tags. The homes can remain occupied, although Jull warned residents to check with their insurance agents about possible changes in policy due to unguaranteed fire service.

“We know that you’re not leaving,” Jull told residents. “That’s why the Department of Community Development is placing yellow tags on the homes (listing) the conditions they are concerned about.”

County, fire, law enforcement and Red Cross officials met with area residents Saturday, Jan. 12 in a Kitsap Adventist School classroom to discuss issues surrounding the repair of the road.

Jull told residents Red Cross officials were prepared to put them in motels until the repairs are complete. A number of businesses, including Brem-Air, Nextel and The Brothers Honda, are donating services and equipment.

“It’s going to be hard to stay here,” Bear said. “This is a construction area.”

But the Taylor Road residents don’t want to leave their homes, and many recall previous washouts.

“Most of the residents have ties to the valley at least 50 years old,” said Bob Tucker, who grew up in the Taylor Road home his mother still occupies. “The county replaced the (wood) bridges that were across both creeks with culverts in 1958 and that same culvert washed out in 1968. They just drug it back in place.”

The county has looked into several options to repair Taylor Road.

County officials announced Thursday, Jan. 10, that they had located an 80-foot-long bridge to reconnect Taylor Road.

“Optimistically, we’re looking at three to seven weeks,” Bear said Saturday of the $300,000 project. “It’s the quickest I’ve seen the county put a bridge in.

“We have no money in the budget to do any of this. There’s no state or federal money, as the disaster wasn’t big enough. But if there’s a fortunate time to have a disaster, this is it. You’re the only show in town so everyone is able to concentrate on one area.”

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