Photo 2 of 5 Day Challenge

How to Make a “hit” with your New Neighbor and Sink a Bridge at the same time.

Tuesday, February 13, 1979 my husband and I had just moved into our newly constructed home in Kirkland, Washington by a few days.  Heck, we hadn’t even met our neighbors yet.  My daughter was about to turn three in less than a month, and I had a three month old son.  The weather report talked about storm warnings and high winds.  Usually, our high winds would flip a kite around a bit faster than usual in the sky, but they weren’t anything to write home about.  But that night the winds howled and the tree branches thrashed against the house.  So much for my “Poo-pooing” the storm warning!  Then in the wee hours of the morning an earth-shaking crash made us do a horizontal jump in bed.  Our house was intact, so everything must be OK.

When we awoke that morning, we looked out our front window and to our horror we saw that one of our massive fir trees had up-rooted and had fallen on our neighbor’s home.  We were told the winds reached 90 MPH. So we ran out the door to see if our neighbors were OK.  We couldn’t tell if the tree had squished their home or not.  Puffing as we ran up to our neighbor’s front door we exclaimed, “We are your new neighbors.  Can we remove our tree off your roof?”  Startled, our neighbors had not realized that our tree had hit their home, so they ran around room to room inspecting.  There in the back bedroom a branch had stabbed clean through the roof and extended into the bedroom by about two feet.  My neighbor exclaimed, “I wondered why it smelled like Christmas in here!”  This is how we started our friendship with our neighbors.  Fortunately, their homeowner’s insurance dealt with the problem.  The good news is that it turns out they needed a new roof and the structure of the roof had some dry-rot, so our tree saved them quite a bit of money as the insurance paid for the new roof.  We even remained friends all these years later.

Crashed tree



Crashed tree root

Our tree wasn’t alone in coming down.  It turns out that the winds further northwest were far more violent.  We made a “hit” with our neighbors and sunk a bridge at the same time.

The Hood Canal Bridge is the world’s first floating pontoon bridge. This 7,869 foot bridge, Hwy. 104, connects Kitsap County with the Olympic Peninsula.  But after being battered with 80 to 120 M.P.H. winds, heavy currents, and gigantic waves the western half of the bridge sunk.  The storm snapped the three foot in diameter cables that tied the pontoons together and down went that section of the bridge!

Senator Warren Magnuson, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, immediately lobbied for federal funds to restore the bridge. In the meantime, people commuting to work from Port Ludlow and Jefferson County to the Kitsap County side of the Hood Canal resorted to using a ferry.  October 3, 1982, the Hood Canal Bridge was reopened.  Now, when a storm approaches and the winds reach a velocity of 40 MPH for 15 minutes or longer, vehicles are forbidden from the bridge.

Floating Bridge


Floating Bridge sunk2

Floating Bridge sunk










Storms here in the Northwestern part of Washington State really make a hit with one’s neighbors.  Heck, you don’t even have to worry about burning your bridges with people… they just sink!

sinking bridge


View of the new Hood Canal Bridge… 2015




About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
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12 Responses to Photo 2 of 5 Day Challenge

  1. Tina Peterson says:

    What a way to meet the new neighbors! How great that you’re still friends. That is an amazing photo of the house and tree!

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      That storm is still remembered by people here in the NW as it really did make a mess. I don’t remember whether we lost our power, but the wood from that tree heated our house at ‘down’ times for several years.

      I do so feel sorry for those people that needed to commute back and forth across the canal for those three years. The lucky part about the bridge going down is that no one was on the bridge that early so no lives were lost.

  2. Susan Scott says:

    I loved that you jumped horizontally from the bed into the air Gwynn! Are you sure it wasn’t that jump that caused the tree to be uprooted? Just asking?

    Yes, the weather can be extreme … I’m writing from the balcony here in Plettenberg Bay (our holiday home) overlooking the sea and mountains and I well recall the storms some years back when boats and refrigerators, beds, cars and other large items uprooted by the swollen rivers and found upstream days later.

    The bridge is beautiful … thank you for this slice of life ..

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      I’m chuckling Susan. Our horizontal jump may have taken down the tree… maybe WE scared it! Having the tree down provided us with firewood, for when our power went out, for quite some time.

      That storm is LONG remembered here in the NW as I believe that is the only time we have had winds that powerful blow through. Now with the prediction of the enormous earthquake and tsunami that could hit the NW in the “near” future, life could become far more exciting. We just don’t know whether this event will happen in the next few years or hundreds of years. Stay tuned! 😉

  3. Per your conversation with Susan, don’t go around scaring trees, Gwynn. My next-door neighbors lost a 100-year-old Norway spruce a few years ago during a storm, when it fell precisely between their car and their hedge, just feet from my house. I heard it come down in the night, just a mild thump: the lush branches cushioned the blow.

    I love ferryboats and find riding over a pontoon bridge a rather odd — but fun, like an amusement park ride — sensation. There was one from Long Beach to Terminal Island that we used to ride over to the Naval base where my husband was stationed during the Vietnam War. I believe they replaced it (the pontoon bridge, disappointingly not the war) with a real bridge. I’d have to look that up, though.

    Great stories, Gwynn. Keep ’em coming.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      If you will remember my story about The Dangers of Logging in the NW… I have had a few other instances with trees!! 😉 We do have some VERY tall and big trees around here. Hopefully they stay in an upright position!! 😉

      Since I didn’t travel to the Naval base on Terminal Island, I missed out on the bridge there. The bridges here in the NW definitely are unique! We are really into pontoon floating bridges… they are nice… EXCEPT when they are icy!!

      Thanks for your comments Samantha.

  4. pat garcia says:

    I find it amazing that your neighbours could sleep through such a crash. They were sleeping mighty hard.
    Nice pictures and the story fits perfectly.
    Good job.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Oh the storm was quite incredible. I too am amazed that my neighbors didn’t feel the crash on their roof. But I’m very thankful that the tree did so little damage to their house and didn’t damage anything else. Thanks for your comments.

  5. Talk about a picture or pictures telling a thousand words. Devastating storm, sounds like, as we can see. Glad you were all okay, and yes, what a way to meet your neighbors. Neighbor had a great sense of humor with the ‘smell like Christmas’ comment. 🙂

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Hey, that tree supplied us with firewood for when our power went out for a VERY long time!! It was even free wood, but it did take a little work! As much as I laugh about things, that storm was VERY frightening. Fortunately, we have not had a storm like that since.

  6. An interesting fact about the hood canal bridge – it doesn’t raise or turn to open for tall boats, it actually withdraws into itself with the road part sliding under another section.

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