In winter, almost 100 inches of rain fell on Big Sur. This region is the perfect coast of California – the beautiful green mountains that meet the Pacific Ocean on a cliff of frothy salt water and waves, sea stacks that stand like statues guarding the beaches, and one winding state highway that serves as the only main thoroughfare in I of the city.
In February, one of the bridges on this highway – Highway 1 – was to be destroyed, because the ground beneath it turned into a supersaturated Hook. He turned Big Sur into an “island,” writes The Washington Post in April:
The rain ended with a five-year drought in California, but it left 45 miles from Highway 1, cut off from the rest of California, with a small amount of services for 450 men, women and children who live here. This means no mail delivery, a limited supply of gasoline and the only deli where you can buy eggs. Even the resident monks were forced to bypass the modern collection, known as GoFundMe, to help restore the road leading to their monastery.
Residents wandered the streets, usually packed with crowds of tourists, like the survivors of the apocalypse – no vacationers in sight. Children were cut off from their schools, and families had no way to get food. So, they bushwhacked a mile trail with switchbacks and steep hills, which students now hike every morning in buses that deliver them to the class.
It sounds like an anti-utopia, but this is the daily life of people in Big Sur.
Then over the weekend there was another disaster. More than a million tons of stones rushed down the hill on Highway 1, blocking a quarter of a mile of road to the wreckage. As of Tuesday, the authorities did not even know what it looks like from the ground, because the hill was still so unstable that no one could approach it, reports AP.
“We haven’t been able to go up there and assess. It’s still moving,” Susana Cruz, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Transportation, said Tuesday. “We have geologists and engineers who are going to check it out this week to see how do we pick up the pieces.”
It’s the largest mudslide she knows of in the state’s history, she said. “It’s one of a kind,” Cruz said.
Between the missing bridge and the landslide, the drive from, say, Big Sur to Gorda — something that typically takes about 30 minutes on Highway 1 — is now nearly four hours and requires the driver to circle all the way out around the coastal range via Highway 101 in the Salinas Valley.