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Escorted convoy helps residents near Mount Rainier navigate through landslides on SR 706

Data pix.

ASHFORD Wash. – Several dozens of people are isolated in their homes near Mt. Rainier National Park due to landslides along State Route 706. National Park Service partnered with Pierce County Emergency Management to offer an escorted convoy, Monday, for those who needed to get supplies for their home.

About 15 cars were part of the convoy. Betty Zenkner was one of the drivers.

“It’s amazing and they’re risking their lives,” said Zenkner.

Zenker has lived in the area outside of Ashford for about 30 years. She said Monday was the first time she was able to leave her home in three days since the landslides.

“My house is high and dry so that was good. Just had to wait for the water to go down enough to drive through it,” said Zenkner.

“These are folks who don’t have any other way to get out,” said Terry Wildy, a Mount Rainier National Park Spokesperson.

Park rangers helped residents navigate through a back road because SR 706 is significantly damaged. Washington State Department of Transportation said heavy rain and snow caused the slides and trees to fall. WSDOT also mentioned the slopes are still unstable.

“It’s scary. It makes you feel small. It makes you realize how big mother nature is,” said Zenkner.

WSDOT said there was no telling when SR 706 would reopen, especially with the potential for more rain that could trigger additional slides. Wildy said it could be a matter of time before mother nature closes the convoy pathway too.

“There’s really only one way in and out right now. Our concern, what we’re watching is the condition of that road,” said Wildy.

WSDOT said SR 706 would remain closed until further notice. National Park Service said, depending on weather and road conditions, the next planned escorted convoy would be Wednesday and Friday.

Zenker said she is prepared for the long haul, but should conditions get worse she’s in good hands.

“It’s amazing how it brings out the heroes in a lot of people,” said Zenkner. “It’s really nice to have good neighbors and you don’t realize how good they are until something like this happens.”

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