Tsunami evacuation route

I have terrible Washaway dreams as it is. Water crossing the threshold of my French doors. It looks like a Northern Virginia cul-de-sac, water rushing over the Persian carpets and overturned walnut dining tables. Too bad I was rich and forgot to enjoy it.

Or it’s become a fancy town and there’s a big hotel with glamorous people and dogs. You can practically smell the cinnamon on the froth of their lattes. I’m annoyed that my dumpy little secret has been discovered, a la Ballard. I go to the water and it’s waveless and clear, all the dead fish lined up in tidy rows, like soldiers, or crops.

Take my hand, we’re gonna drown. I could not watch very much of the footage of the tsunami in Japan. Water, black water, moving so fast you know the “Tsunami Evacuation Route” signs of the little man outrunning the wave are a joke. The black water jumping up onto and over the highway, into the parking lot and scrambling the little cars like toys. The ferry boat on top of the tall building. These images are immediately saved for nightmares later. Boats smashing under the bridge, the water is so high.

We need to believe we have some measure of control. I wasn’t around, but it was evacuated here. It wasn’t an “Alert,” just a “Warning”. The NOAA radio let people know at 10 pm that the tsunami surge was expected at 7 am. That is a lot of warning that you need to go out for a road trip for breakfast.

My friend Marcy lives in town and she has checked it out. The options are north to Grayland, or south to Tokeland and the Shoalwater Indian Reservation. The rez is closer, the Eagle Tree Road is pretty good for high ground, and the tribe is organized, nice, and “Tsunami Ready”, folks say.

Rhody house mailboxes

Besides, who do you want to spend the apocalypse with, the Native American people or the VFW?

Meanwhile, I check my canned goods, iffy soups that were “best by” 2009. In the apocalypse, do you care? I bought some peanut butter for my car. The Japanese were really well prepared, and there is no preparing for this sort of thing.

Further down the beach, past the house where the guy dumps piles of rocks in front of his house to stop the ocean (he calls it “Isle Not Go” while I prefer “Rockpile Peninsula Project”), the shipwreck has reemerged, green with moss.


Rhody house flattened

The poor Rhody House was flattened, and has since vanished.

The next place to fall in will likely be the compound formerly belonging to another local legend named Mario. He either was deported to Mexico, or is just fine and living in Westport, depending on how you like your legends. Naturally, I loved his Erika-style fencing of random sheets of plywood and scrap metal bungee-corded vertically and nailed onto driftwood, waiting to blow down in a good storm. He had an extensive menagerie of horses and goats and chickens and one rooster in particular that was good for inspiring murder fantasies.

There used to be this brown Hummer at Washaway, near Mario, with a license plate that read, “IM BAD”. Later my neighbor told me, cryptically, that I’M BAD had been run out of town by “Mexicans”. That’s code for that rooster, I’m sure.

Now that it is undercut, you can see that Mario’s weird blue siding was covering a crappy trailer. My neighbor Stanley says that when Mario’s place falls in the area will be “cleansed”. Clean is coming soon.

Next door to Mario, they are trying to outwit looters through signage. “Copper Gone Too Late” is one.

“I’m Not Yours To Take”: a message for looters, or the ocean?


Sand point

Somehow being in a place where doom is certain is a comfort. There are these metal pipes all over the beach, known as sand points. Sand points are a handy way to tap into the free ground water, and they are all that remain of former places.

I just need to remember gratitude. As my great-aunt Alvera used to say, it’s another day in the beautiful world.





About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at www.erikalangley.com.
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One Response to Tsunami evacuation route

  1. Tom says:

    Erika, I’m moved by everything you write about this perilous, beautiful place.

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