PHOTOS: After Saturday’s storm, Des Moines’ Redondo Boardwalk lies in pieces

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Story & Photos by Gene Achziger

The Redondo Boardwalk lies in pieces.

Across the road.

Bobbing on a roiling sea.

Anywhere except where it is supposed to be after a powerful wind from the northwest on Saturday morning whipped up waves off Bainbridge Island and funneled them down sound at high tide to the Des Moines waterfront community of Redondo.

When Mother Nature has that much distance to wind up a haymaker, you can bet the punch is going to do some face damage.

When the full force of the storm surge battered the face of the steel pile and concrete paneled seawall at Redondo, it popped much of the boardwalk from its underpinnings.

Planks snapped. Steel buckled. And concrete exploded.

Manholes became geysers as the waves breeched the seawall’s storm drainage system. Chunks of concrete rained down as waves leapt 30 feet in the air. Three and four-foot long slabs of 4-inch thick, foot-wide wooden planking were tossed into the front yards of residents 30 feet away.

Homes a block away and uphill more than 20 feet rocked as the powerful vibrations resounded off the seawall. It felt like an unending series of earthquakes.

Hardest hit were the southern reaches of the boardwalk where little is left and the enclave of homes known as Redondo Shores had foot-deep standing water and wavy lines of debris snaking across lawns and driveways.

City of Des Moines maintenance crews blocked off Redondo Beach Drive South and taped off access to the fishing pier and boardwalk entrance as the police blockaded lookie loos.

Salty’s posted a closure note on its door for anyone brave enough to wade through the six inches of water in front of the building to read (they have since re-opened). Highline’s Marine and Science Technology remained closed pending a damage assessment.

Nearby, the community’s holiday decorations fluttered in the 20-mile per hour wind blasts.

This was the worst storm in the area since a series of blasts coming down the fetch from Bainbridge literally cleaved the roadway along the centerline in the early 1990s.

Despite warnings from local residents about the probability of another such disaster, King County opted to rebuild that road and affix the wooden boardwalk. In the meantime, it transferred fiscal responsibility for the road, boardwalk and seawall to the City of Des Moines. The city has lately been involved in a series of studies as to how to pay for maintenance of the amenities that are primarily used by residents of nearby Federal Way.

But on this day, concerns about where repair funds would come from were fleeting thoughts, as crews battled to contain the damage and make sure the residents were safe. Sorting out the debris and figuring out the costs will have to wait another day.

In the meantime, the Redondo Boardwalk lies everywhere, except intact.

Des Moines Public Works Director Dan Brewer says he thinks the city has insurance to cover the boardwalk damages.

Here are more photos of the damage, courtesy Susan White (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):









13 Responses to “PHOTOS: After Saturday’s storm, Des Moines’ Redondo Boardwalk lies in pieces”
  1. andy says:

    What a shame. One of my favorite places in the world.

  2. J Walsh says:

    This is so sad. I walk this every day. I love this boardwalk.

  3. janet grella says:

    Great storm coverage. I bet that Gene-guy used to be a reporter or something!

  4. Ting Gatdula says:

    I live in San Francisco Bay Area but have been there numerrous times. What a beautiful place – Redondo Beach is! I hope the city rebuilds soon.

  5. Tracey says:

    Wow, great photos and wonderful writing! Thanks for a great piece of storm coverage. I hope that Redondo rebuilds soon.

  6. Darren says:

    This is not new Redondo has always had these storms come through and pound that beach head, when I was a teenager there was little focus on repair or improvements to Redondo only took 30 years to get the boardwalk that has currently been broken up.

  7. Kay Pedersen says:

    We live on the water south of Redondo. The waves were so powerful they tore apart our bulkhead, actually lifted huge boulders that had been put into place with a large crane and rolled them out onto the beach. Amazing!

  8. Sissy Bloomer says:

    So many memories here in Redondo for SO many years….I am SO very sad for this and all of you who live there and weathered the Storm. Bless you ALL !!!

  9. Harry Balsagna says:

    “Concrete exploded”? “Unending…earthquakes”?
    I little melodramatic, no?

  10. J Molnar says:

    I am a little confused? I have been to the boardwalk since Dec 2014 and all was fine. Today decided to drive by as a nice day and all is fenced off and I saw allot of damage. So when exactly did this happen? According to posts it happened last Nov 2014 but I know I have driven by since then and it didn’t look like this?

  11. D Taylor says:

    This was the backyards of the waterfront homes until the City stole it, built a road, then pier. The first walkway was completely torn up shortly after built by a storm.

    Sure it’s a nice place to go to. I bought a house on this beach because the house facing the water had all glass windows to enjoy the view, before the road and pier. That was ruined by the road, then walkway and gawkers watching my family eat a meal.

  12. Heather says:

    I was raised in Redondo. Have visited there in September. Loved the new boardwalk. I really hope the current locals find the funds to rebuild. Maybe a concrete walkway with I beams that go really deep for reenforcement. Mother nature can be brutal.

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