in the aftermath of the atmospheric river: update Wednesday Feb 22
Thank you again to all of you who are writing (and maybe trying to call?) to check on us.
The rain stopped yesterday (Tuesday) morning after one last very windy rainy night, like the last hurrah of this atmospheric river. Today we woke up to a sky scrubbed clean full of brilliant stars and a crescent moon and a few hours later an amazing sunrise. I walked down to the highway yesterday and up to the top of the property today and there are new springs bursting out of all kinds of new places in the mountain. It has been cool and windy all day, but no sign of rain for now, and we are assessing the damage, as is everyone on the coast, and in a lot of other places in California, I take it.
On our immediate property, we were down to one phone line and now we have none. Thankfully though the satellite Internet and our generator have remained functioning throughout. Fortunately we got a supply of diesel fuel (for the generator) just before the last wave hit so we are set for a few more weeks. Propane is a little less, but still good for a few weeks. We have plenty of food, canned, dry and frozen to last for a few months, according to Benedict, and have been able to restock milk, lettuce, bread, etc. He hopes to do a town run on Friday and stock up on just about everything.
We lost a couple of trees, including a majestic Monterey cypress in front of the church, but outside of new leaks here and there no real damage on the property. Our two-mile entry road is badly damaged in two significant places though. It is still drivable with high clearance cars but we have a sign below warning of the danger. It is going to cost a lot of money to fix. The highway itself is a mess. There were two major slides and a minor one between us and Nacimiento Ferguson Road (five miles to our south) and two other major ones south of that. At this point the road is technically open all the way through to the south, but only to locals. There is a lot of work going on. The one just to the south of our driveway, called Paul’s Slide, is the worst, I think, because the southbound lane crumbled into the ocean so there is only one thin lane with no guard rail and the slide is still somewhat active. Last we heard, even though there was a major rock slide six miles north of us at Cow’s Cliff, the road is technically open all the way to just north of the post office (“downtown Big Sur”). At that point the bridge has cracked pillars and has moved considerably, deemed totally unsafe for pedestrians or vehicles. They have no idea how long it will take to demolish and rebuild that bridge or if a temporary one can be put in place. That means no access from the north for months ahead. Nacimiento Ferguson Road, the one best-kept-secret escape over the mountains and through the military base, is again technically open (though they are checking for local IDs), but it too is very fragile, and not made for heavy traffic, especially delivery trucks. All the local businesses are really suffering from this, including our own hospitality ministry, overwhelmingly our main source of income.
In spite of it all, the spirit here and in the neighborhood has been really wonderful (though at one point I think that this band of crazy monks were about the only ones left). We are celebrating liturgies in the chapter room (with no guests we are so small and this way we also save on propane heat). The brothers have been peaceful and totally adaptable. The staff has also been tremendous. Michael Richards, head of maintenance, and Rich Veum, business manager have been brilliant and heroic. We absolutely couldn’t have done it without them. Our neighbors, especially the Harlans, have been very helpful. As a matter of fact, Ken, the manager of Lucia Lodge, gave us a walkie-talkie to contact him directly, which is even more essential now that we have no phones. The local Big Sur Fire Dept. and Chamber of Commerce have also been spot on. We have all the necessary information for med-evac and even for air lifting supplies. I even did investigation into full evacuation if it came to that.
We have no idea what Mother Nature has in store for us for the rest of the winter and early spring, but we have already begun a disaster relief fund raising effort, not only to recoup lost income, but also to keep paying our staff and also to do the immense repairs. Please keep checking our Facebook page and website for further developments.
In everything, as we sing, let God be glorified! Counting on your prayers and assuring you of ours, with thanks.