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Emergency repair work to begin on washed-out Chimney Rock Road

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Posted at 10:30 PM, Mar 31, 2023

A return of quiet weather means crews can begin rebuilding a washed-out road near Lake Nacimiento.

Dozens of people who live along Chimney Rock Road have been cut off from the outside world for months and the reason is simple: there is a giant gaping hole in the road.

“What are you gonna do, how are you going to survive? You got to be able to pass through,” said Mic David who lives off Chimney Rock Road.

“It’s hard man, you just gotta suck it up,” said Matt Grogan, who lives on the other side of the washout.

The only way out is by taking a boat across Lake Nacimiento or rafting to the other side of Chimney Rock Road.

“I literally gotta go across the creek or try to get a boat ride,” explained Grogan.

After driving to the washout, one woman rafted to the other side with dinner in hand, and she says it’s becoming a routine.

“I have dinner after a very long week of doing this,” she said.

Driving further along Chimney Rock Road, there are washouts that crews won’t be able to access until the road is rebuilt.

“And it’s not just this washout, there are other washouts. All our private roads, they’re pretty bad. It’s really hard to get across,” said David.

Emergency officials have set up a lifeline and are taking people on weekly grocery runs by boat to Heritage Ranch.

“A lot of residents belong to boat clubs and do have boats but there are quite a few residents who don’t have boats and so they literally have no way out to go grocery shopping.” Said Rachel Dion, Emergency Services Coordinator for San Luis Obispo County.

Relief is on the way for people trapped behind the washout.

“The first phase it to complete that temporary access road which will provide emergency vehicles access as well as residential access in and out,” said Jeff Lee, Design and Construction Division Manager for SLO County.

Crews are expected to begin emergency repair work on Monday.

The hope is that residents can drive in and out of the area once again by the end of April.

“Where the work is gonna be done is still an active part of Lake Nacimiento,” explained Lee.

There is still plenty of storm damage in the area, which has been challenging for moving in heavy equipment.

“The weight of the equipment, the weight of the trucks, the amount of material that’s gonna be needed out there is all taken into consideration,” said Lee.

Emergency officials, meanwhile, are urging those trapped to hang tight because help is on the way.

The second phase of work involves building a bridge over the washout area.

Permanent repairs are expected to take a while and could cost as much as $1 million.