Oso Tragedy
10:09 am
Fri March 28, 2014

A Hard Day Ahead For Search Operations In The Mudslide

With 100 percent chance of rain in the forecast for Friday, Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots held a brief conference in the morning to update on the progress of the Oso mudslide.

Hots said the rain makes the efforts of the workers in the debris field, now in their seventh day of search operations, slow and complicated. “We’ve got a hard day ahead of us,” Hots said.

The official death toll from the mudslide stands at 17 as of Friday morning. The slide is believed to have killed at least 26 people. In a statement late Thursday, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's office said the new official death toll includes an infant recovered earlier in the day.

Hots praised the work of the medical examiner and emphasized that he would only report information on the deceased from that office.

Also during Thursday's press conference, Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington told reporters that he is pursuing the legality of releasing the names of 90 people still unaccounted for.

Hots said he is hoping to have an answer to that question by Friday afternoon.

From an operational standpoint, Hots said crews worked overnight on getting a power line road open for emergency operations, but there were no major developments.

Helping The Community

Hots expressed gratitude to those from the local community and beyond who have given food, clothing and time to those affected by the Oso mudslide.

He said now, the main need is for cash. “I’m pleading with the community to please dig deep and continue to give support,” Hots said.

Donations have been pouring in since the disaster last Saturday.

Seth Olson, 15, has been working with his Boy Scout troop to collect items from a daily list of requests that his scoutmaster gets: food, supplies, foil and plastic wrap.

His mother, Jodonna Olson, said that the list has expanded to non-traditional items to help volunteers.

“They’re needing more chainsaws, chainsaw oil, big stuff like that; they’re running low on that kind of stuff,” she said.

Jodonna Olson said her friend, Lisa Vaughn, has been helping find metal probes to give to volunteers who are helping in the rescue effort.

They weren’t easy to find, but Vaughn discovered a local business who could make 20 of them on a quick turnaround.

“They’re donating all the materials and time,” Vaughn said. “They drove up to Bellingham to get the parts.”

Both the Olsons and Vaughn said volunteers can still use certain items like boots, rain gear and hip waders as the rescue and recovery efforts continue.

Resources

  • Crisis Care Hotline: 800.584.3578. Available for all those in the community who have been affected by the landslide, staffed around the clock to provide counseling and crisis intervention.
  • Snohomish County information on volunteer and donation needs.
  • Updated information from the Snohomish County Medical Examiner about the mudslide victims.
  • To report or provide information on a missing person in the mudslide, contact the Snohomish County Sheriff's tip line: 425.388.3845.
  • Information for Darrington residents.