Small Town Of Darrington Grieves For Slide Victims, Waits For News
People in the town of Darrington struggled Monday to comprehend the scope of the disaster just a few miles from them. The people who lived in the homes destroyed by Saturday's devastating mudflow are friends, relatives and neighbors.
In Darrington, the grocery store is across the street from the fire station and a gathering place for people here. Suzette Russell and her husband David were among them.
“I’m a little numb,” Suzette Russell said. She was visiting in Idaho when she heard about the slide. She immediately took a train back here, not knowing whether her husband was all right.
"So I’d lost it quite a bit the day before,” she said. Now she’s waiting for word about five relatives and a friend.
“Well, I don’t have my makeup on and I just crawled out with what I have on today so I could come up to town to see if we could do anything, or if we could find out any more," she said. "Because my family — like, my brother, it’s his daughter.”
Almost everyone here seems to know someone who is missing now. They’re gathered outside this grocery store where a message board shows them the slide area and a fresh-painted sign thanks emergency responders for their work.
Taylor Lindeman and Lindsay Fabri are here. Lindeman lives near the slide, so she's been staying at Fabri's house in Darrington. They know their families are fine, but they're worried about one friend in particular — a girl.
Both her parents are missing. The whole community is waiting for word about them, along with dozens of others who are still missing.
Being able the gather at the store helps people share information. They’re trying to learn more about what’s happened, and they're comparing notes on what they knew about the slide risk in the area before this happened.
Mark and Roxanne Chance say they looked at houses on Steelhead Drive, which no longer exists.
The two said they were put off by how near the houses were to the water. "I just got a really bad feeling because it just didn’t look right to me," said Roxanne Chance. "It looked like there could be too much of a threat.”
Mark Chance added people should do research and make their own choices.
The grocery store isn't the only meeting ground. Many residents here have lost Internet and phone service, which has turned the local library just behind the command post into a hotspot.
People are using the Internet inside, or they’re sitting in their cars using the Wi-Fi.
Lisa Tucker has lived in Darrington all her life. She says this disaster isn’t going to change her view of risk.
“Who was to know that, you know, we were gonna get blocked in? Who’s to know that the landslide is gonna happen?" she said. "Disasters can happen anywhere. And it just so happened to be closer to our town this time.”
For her, this place is home – the mountain shining down on this town, the river and the people.
“It’s a beautiful place to live," she said. "And you can’t be afraid to continue to live just because a disaster happened. Everything will pick up.”