Letter from Martha Karstens, BSVFB

•February 19, 2017 • 2 Comments

Information from Chief Karstens, Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade.

February 18, 2017

Dear Big Sur residents,

Last Saturday February 11th, I became aware of some concerns about the possibility of one of our bridges being damaged and the land beneath it cracking.  I went down to investigate and with State Parks and Cal Trans saw the damage first hand at the Sycamore canyon bridge.  Within a few hours the word was out that maybe people should get north of the bridge if at all possible. That was followed by a hard closure in the early evening. Cal Trans arrived on Sunday February 12th to look at the integrity of the structure and the decision was made to allow traffic out only through the closure until 4:00 PM.  Pedestrian traffic and emergency vehicles were allowed after that until the geo techs could look at the bridge on Monday.

The closure stayed in place with pedestrian traffic and emergency vehicles only until we got the confirmation early on Wednesday February 15th that for a few hours vehicles would be allowed to cross depending on the integrity of the bridge which they constantly monitored.  This crossing, which included things like propane and service trucks, was allowed to continue until 5:00 PM Wednesday.

To this date, Saturday morning, there has been a hard closure, not even foot traffic allowed and after talking to Cal Trans I do not expect that to change.  CHP is in place to handle traffic control.

The Fire Brigade and OES are actively working with the State Park and private land owners to try and identify the possibility of putting in a trail around the bridge.  Our plan is to look at the State park area on Tuesday when hopefully the rain stops.

The Fire Brigade has had our response area broken up right now into about four separate areas.  Loosely defined as the area south of Limekiln, the Lucia/Hermitage area between Big Ck. and Pauls’ slide, the area south of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and the area north of the bridge.  With the rainy weather these areas can change.  The Lucia area has been shut in already for about 8 days.

For emergency concerns, first of all, as usual, call 911.  There are some USFS personnel in the area south of Limekiln at the Pacific Valley station; I have, off and on, a medical Fire Brigade member in the Lucia/Hermitage area.  Our fire house is in the area south of the bridge with a number of Fire Brigade members, and we have moved an engine and a medical/rescue squad to the USFS Big Sur station on the north side.  I have several members on the north side of the Bridge as well.  AMR, the ambulance crew, is at their quarters at our fire house at the Post Ranch and my goal is to have them remain there throughout this incident.

In some of the isolated areas the best way out for a medical emergency will be a helicopter.  (You may want to sign up for the AirMedCare (formally CalStar) membership if that ends up being the helo that flies you out).  In the event it is not possible to fly you out we will do what it takes to get you out, it may be that we have to carry you out by stretcher.  We do have an emergency route planned for the folks in the area just south of the bridge if need be.  This underlines the importance of having anyone who does not live here to leave.  The more people there are in the affected area the more possibility there is for an emergency.  If anyone has any medical concerns they might consider evacuating.  This is not the time for nonresidents to have an adventure.  They are a liability and are using up precious resources.

An  emergency proclamation has been declared for our area.  The Fire Brigade has been working with the Chamber of Commerce, (Kirk), OES and several other agencies from the onset to make sure the needs of everyone in their isolated areas are met.  We had two conference calls yesterday afternoon to further discuss the situation.

Also the Sheriff’s department has two vehicles on the south side of the bridge if need be.

This is just one more challenge Mother Nature has given to all of us down here, and hopefully we will all get through it safely.  Please feel free to call me with any questions or concern.

Martha Karstens

Helicopter service in Big Sur, 2/19/17

•February 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Hello Everyone,

Today February 19, 2017   Flights out only

The Fire Brigade in conjunction with State Parks has arranged for the opportunity for three helicopter flights out today only.

People on the south side of the bridge may go to Post Ranch to fly out and will be landed at the State Park ball field.  You will need to make your own arrangements to get north from there.

You will need to either have a ride to both landing zones, or plan to park your car on Highway One.  No cars may be left inside the State Park or the Post Ranch property.
To access the ball field you may drive out the day use road like you would normally do.

This will be until noon weather permitting or until we reach the three flight limit.  The Helicopter service is the same one that ferried people out during the Rocky Creek closure, Specialized Helicopter Service.

To the best of my knowledge PG&E may not be able to get access to the south side until Wednesday to work on the power.

The cost is $50 a seat with 3 seats available.  Payment can be worked out.

No hazardous materials, gas etc
Contact number for questions:  Ken 610-299-8110

Martha Karstens

Gas Available South of Pfeiffer Bridge, 2/19/17

•February 19, 2017 • 2 Comments

Hello Everyone,

For those of you located south of the Pfeiffer Bridge, gas will be available at the Loma Vista gas station from 10:00AM to 12:00PM today.

Note:  They will be closed Monday, but available again Tuesday from 10-12.

The station may be open on a daily basis during these hours depending on weather and power.  We will issue daily notices as conditions may change.  If you have an emergency and need to know if the station is open, call the following cell phone number 1-661-301-7213 and ask to speak to Mike.  This phone may have spotty service (as cell phones do in Big Sur) and works only when power is on.

Animation of Sunday’s (2/19/17) expected storm from 6 PM Sunday to 6 PM Monday

•February 19, 2017 • 5 Comments


7 pm update:  Updated animation showing the expected storm from 6 PM Sunday to 6 PM Monday.


Animation images provided by http://www.ventusky.com



From NWS BayArea: Widespread flooding and mudslides possible Sun-Mon.

HWY. 1 Closure Update – 2/19/17

•February 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment


Photo of just north of Salmon Creek (PM 3) FROM YESTERDAY.

Closure Continues from Ragged Pt. (SLO PM 72.87) to Pfeiffer Cyn Bridge (PM 45.5)




Another update regarding the Highway 1 Big Sur Coast will be provided around mid-morning tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 20.

NOTE: For information on emergency services for the Big Sur Coast, you may contact Gerry Malais, Mon. Co. OES via email at: malaisg@co.monterey.ca.us or Maia Carroll, Mon. Co. OES PIO at carrollm@co.monterey.ca.us or via phone at (831) 796-3092.

Susana Z. Cruz

Caltrans District 5

Acting Manager

Public Information Office

Rancho Rico Formal Statement, 2/18/17

•February 18, 2017 • 2 Comments

Dear Big Sur Community,

Most of the residents of Rancho Rico are staying on Rancho Rico during the storms and the road closures. We wanted to reach out to our community and let you know the status of our own roads. Currently our main road into Rancho Rico is severely compromised. Half of the width of the road in a couple of areas has gone down the canyon and we can see visible cracks similar to what people are seeing throughout big sur.

That being said, because of the magnitude of the damage to the bridge and the uncertainties of a long-term solution, we are actively in communication with our neighbors, John K. and the Pfeiffer Point Road Board, CPOA, Big Sur Fire Brigade as well as county officials, to explore ways in which we might facilitate locals needing emergency exit.  We will let you know if we are able to make headway with this because we’re aware a lot of our friends, family, and neighbors have pressing needs to get out to and from their homes and businesses.

Currently we have coordinated with Martha Karstens for emergency evacuation by foot in the event of a life or death situation.

If you would like to communicate to the Rancho Rico Management Board please contact us through Carissa at: carissa@chappellet.com

Highway 1 closures update – Saturday, February 18, 2017

•February 18, 2017 • 6 Comments


Dear All,

Yesterday, afternoon, Congressman Jimmy Panetta convened a meeting, via conference call, with key stakeholders and county and state elected officials who represent our area.  Participants included Senator Bill Monning, Aline Reyna, District Representative for Assembly Member Anna Caballero, Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams,  Monterey County Sheriff, NOAA, retired US Congressman Sam Farr, and representatives from Caltrans, California Office of Emergency Services (OES), Monterey County Administrative Office and Office of Emergency Services, United States Forest Service, California Department of State Parks and Recreation (CDOR), CHP, Chief Karstens-Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, Butch Kronlund/CPOA, Cyril Chappellet/Rancho Rico, and myself and other agency/elected official staff representatives.

This email is intended to provide a summary of key points and as most participants were on phones, there were spotty and often problematic connections – in short any errors, omissions, or mischaracterizations are my responsibility as I am not referring to an independent transcript of this meeting.

Caltrans District 5 Deputy Director for Maintenance Operations, Sara von Schwind provided briefing on current conditions/outlook for Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PCB) and closures on south coast:

PCB at post mile marker 45.5 is 316’ long

Strong possibility that northern abutment could also be compromised by the landslide

Caltrans needs drilling rig on site to accurately map slide plane – hoping to have drilling rig on site by Tuesday, February 21, 2017

PCB structure continuing to move.  From Thursday to Friday it moved one additional degree out of alignment (4 degrees to 5 degrees)

PCB showed additional indications of damage associated with vehicle movement during Wednesday convoys

Normal for landslides to continue moving up to 30 days after rains end

Not optimistic that bridge will be able to be re-opened to pedestrian or vehicle traffic

Detour analysis is being conducted for both pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic

Structural analysis focusing on repair, rebuild, temporary structure (i.e. Bailey Bridge) options

Span length considered to be too long for a Bailey Bridge option

Lack of sufficient soil stability on north and south ends of bridge make placement of a shorter bridge up canyon problematic

Detour discussions included analysis of old haul road, used in the 1964-65 construction of the current bridge, looking at CDPR property down canyon, and private property (Rancho Rico) up canyon:

Haul Road -Landslide making old haul road route problematic, if not impossible.

Southern end of old haul road compromised by older landslide and small creek

CDPR trail options – Due to concerns about debris flows coming down Pfeiffer Canyon and Post Creek during inclement weather, analysis of potential trail options by CDPR will be done after rains stop and area dries out

Rancho Rico trail options – under consideration, Chappellet family wishes to be of assistance, but has to evaluate impacts on fragile and currently damaged road structure on Rancho Rico and liability issues

New south Coast closure at Chimney Slide, just south of Limekiln State Park at post mile marker 20.0

No Caltrans equipment in northern enclave (PCB to Big Creek)

Caltrans currently in maintenance mode, not yet requesting permits for “permanent” fixes/projects until conditions stabilize.  Primary condition for stabilization is dry out period sufficient for earth movement to stop causing additional closures/hazards

In response to Senator Monning query about best guess on when road would again be open, Sara replied that on the south end it might be a couple of months and hopefully one week for locals, with the caveat that conditions on the ground stabilize and current weather systems do not create new closures or expand existing ones.  All time estimates were couched with many caveats given tremendous uncertainty about continued impacts of ongoing weather events.   No estimate offered on north end as analysis on landslide plane, structural integrity of bridge ongoing along with evaluation of possible by pass options – all of which are affected by ongoing weather events.

Gerry Malais, Monterey County Director of Emergency Services, briefed group on emergency operational planning:

Medical evacuation by air support approved by State OES

Re-supply by air support not approved by State OES at this time

Senator Monning – Offered his assistance in facilitating rapid unemployment insurance support for displaced employees and requested that his office be provided with names of all employees seeking to apply for unemployment insurance.  Big Sur Chamber and CPOA will work on developing that data to submit to Senator Monning’s office.

Congressman Panetta – Next week’s BSMAAC meeting to be cancelled but will continue to convene stakeholder meeting process on Highway 1 closure weekly until further notice

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