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Crews continue work at Oso mudslide

Rick LaHusen, of the U.S. Geological Survey, explains how mechanical ‘spiders’ are monitoring the site of the Oso slide for further shifting of land. - Kirk Boxleitner
Rick LaHusen, of the U.S. Geological Survey, explains how mechanical ‘spiders’ are monitoring the site of the Oso slide for further shifting of land.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

OSO — Another week of steady incremental progress in recovery work at the site of the Oso mudslide was highlighted by President Barack Obama confirming reports from Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell that he will visit the scene of the mudslide on April 22.

On April 8, the White House issued the following statement:

“On Tuesday, April 22, President Obama will travel to Oso, Washington, to view the devastation from the recent mudslide and meet with the families affected by this disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers. Further details about the President’s travel to Washington will be available in the coming days.”

Earlier that day, Inslee had issued a statement of his own, reporting that the President had informed him that morning of his planned visit.

“This will give the President the opportunity to see firsthand the devastation wrought by the slide, as well as the incredible community spirit flourishing in Oso, Arlington and Darrington,” Inslee said. “From the earliest days following the slide, the President has closely monitored events in the area, and shown his concerns for the victims and their families. He and his team have been important partners in the response effort, and I believe this visit will strengthen those ties, as we face the tough work ahead.”

DelBene had also been informed by Obama that same day of his upcoming visit.

“Additionally, the President informed me that he will move quickly to sign into law legislation that was recently passed by Congress, to save the historic Green Mountain Lookout near Darrington,” DelBene said, in a statement issued on April 8.

Murray and Cantwell issued a joint statement that day, expressing their appreciation to Obama for his decision to visit the area on April 22.

“We are confident that President Obama will see what we have seen: The tremendous resolve and determination of the people of Oso, Darrington and Arlington in the face of tragedy,” Murray and Cantwell said. “The President’s visit is another important step in demonstrating the federal government’s ongoing commitment to supporting the families, first responders, volunteers and businesses, as they recover from this disaster. We appreciate the decision to make major disaster resources available, and by the IRS to grant tax relief, and we’ll continue to work for the federal government to provide every resource possible for these communities.”

This news came after the Army Corps of Engineers had coordinated with Snohomish County to commence construction on a temporary berm, to reduce flood impacts in the slide area, in the area of State Route 530, near milepost 37, at C Post Road and 312th Street NE. Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews have assisted in these efforts by clearing debris from the search areas, and WSDOT itself is working with Snohomish County to develop a plan for clearing State Route 530 after all the search efforts are complete.

Three Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Recovery Centers are open to assist residents who have been affected by the Oso mudslide — at the Arlington Public Works Administration Building at 154 W. Cox Ave., the Darrington Ranger District Office at 1405 Emens Ave. and the Oso Fire Station at 21824 State Route 530 NE — Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents should register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or logging onto www.disasterassistance.gov. At the close of business on April 9, FEMA reported that 377 individuals or families had registered for assistance.

While help is still needed, officials are reporting that the best way to support the slide recovery effort is through a monetary donation, and a list of trusted charities collecting such funds is included on Snohomish County’s SR530 slide resources page at http://snohomishcountywa.gov/530Slide. County officials added that Darrington is literally out of room to house physical donations, so those who wish to offer services or equipment should call 425-388-5139.

The weekend will bring a trio of Oso community fundraisers. The Mirkwood & Shire Cafe’s benefit concert series continues at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, for $5 at the door at 117 E. Division St., while the Viking Hall at 1331 Pioneer Hwy. in Silvana will host a charity breakfast from 7 a.m. to noon that same Saturday for Oso firefighter Seth Jefferds. On Sunday, April 13, the Norpoint Shooting Center at 8620-A 172nd St. NE in Arlington will be serving up an Oso relief barbecue from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $5 a plate, with $20 for raffle tickets to try and win a Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm.

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