Thursday, March 27, 2014

Devastating Landslide in Oso Hits Close to Home

I'm sure by now, the entire country has heard of the deadly landslide that took place in the small town of Oso, Washington after an entire mountainside collapsed.  Calling it a "mudslide" is undermining the gravity of this disaster.
Last Saturday, a 25-foot high mudslide rushed through Oso, demolishing nearly everything in it's path.  Oso is a small town north of Seattle, with a population of just about 200.  With 49 homes in the mudslide's path, there have been 16 bodes pulled from the aftermath and eight more located but not yet recovered; putting the death toll at 24 and the official missing person's number is 90. 
I have been glued to the news at home and on the radio on my commute, and have been tragically reminded just how precious and fleeting our minutes are. 
  • My friend's husband was running behind schedule for a hunting trip that day and missed it by mere minutes.  He was stopped behind the one mile stretch of highway that was taken out by the mudslide and the photo he posted on Facebook was how I heard about it; not yet realizing the magnitude of the situation.
  • A family left their Oso home for a trip to Costco just eight minutes before the mudslide.
  • A woman left her mother at home to watch her baby while she went to work for the day.  Grandmother and baby are gone.  This grandmother worked in a dental office for 20 years and they are also mourning her loss.
  • I used to work with a gal who lives in Oso, so of course I was worried that she got caught up in this.  Thankfully, her farm is not located in the area devastated by the mudslide. 
The crew working without ceasing to find more bodies is spurred by the hope that they may find people alive in an air pocket or trapped in a house.  Not to mention anyone who might have been driving on the highway at the time and washed away in their car. 
  • A four-year-old boy was rescued via helicopter after he was spotted from above; the mud ripped his pants right off of him.  His father and brothers are still missing.  My friend's son was friends with one of the brothers.
  • A woman talks about seeing the wave of earth rolling toward her house and braced herself to ride it out with her friend who was with her.  Mud filled her eyes, nose and mouth, but they fought with everything they had and thankfully survived.
As I was listening to the news reports on the radio yesterday on my drive home from work, I continued to feel more and more urgency to help.  This hits so close to home, as we live south of Seattle, in a valley, and it now has me thinking about the possibility that this could happen where we live as well. 
I pulled into a gas station and turned off my car to fill up, and when I got out, a lady in the car next to me had the exact same story I was listening to blaring on her radio, so I continued to listen with an aching heart.
Hearing the first-hand accounts from workers and volunteers about what they are experiencing at the site is so...heartbreaking.  I don't even know what other word to use to describe it.  A man broke down crying talking about coming across baby clothes, children's books and a box full of toys.  He picked up one of the books and on the inside cover was written "it's a beautiful world". 
It is a beautiful world...where bad things happen.  But the world is also filled with beautiful people who sacrifice their own comfort to help those in need. 

Mark Mulligan, AP, The Daily Herald, Everett
  • The picture above is a local boy who is a Senior in high school.  He's been working tirelessly helping the rescue crew, using duct tape to help keep the mud out of his boots.
  • A man immediately flew out from Pittsburg to help with search and rescue.  He has family who are among the missing.
  • Brave, generous people from around the country, and world, are traveling to Oso to offer their support and assistance with not only the rescue and recovery, but to also offer emotional support for the grieving families who survived.
Here are some ways you can help:
  1. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or online at the Red Cross donation site. 
  2. Donate to The Salvation Army here or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.  You can also send a check marked "disaster relief" to The Salvation Army, Northwest Divisional Headquarters, 111 Queen Anne Avenue N #300, Seattle, WA, 98109. 
  3. Five people remain in serious condition at Harborview, ranging in age from 5-months-old, to 81-years-old.  Thankfully they are all improving.  Cards or letters of well-wishes and prayers can be send to: "Oso Landslide Patient," Harborview Medical Center, 325 9th Avenue, Seattle WA, 98104
  4. You can donate to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation Disaster Fund HERE.  Cascade Valley Hospital is location in Oso's neighboring town of Arlington, and all funds raised go to those affected by the mudslide. 
  5. Stay updated on various ways to donate via the Mudslide Info and Relief Effort Facebook page
  6. Click HERE for ways you can help pets affected by the mudslide.
  7. Ed Russell is a local business man collecting and delivering items necessary to help with the rescue efforts; items that might not come to mind when thinking about donating, but are so highly important.  i.e.: Volunteers are using their personal tractors and chainsaws to help rescue workers navigate through the rubble, and this equipment continually needs gas in order to operate.  Russell says there's no way to fathom just how grave the situation is at the slide site, and the need will continue for a long time to come.  The following items needed can be delivered or sent to his business address, or you can call Ed Russell at 425-308-2549 to ask how you can help.
Senior Aerospace AMT
20100 71st Ave. NE
Arlington, WA 98223
Non-perishable food
Baby items (diapers, baby formula)
Heavy duty work gloves
Power saws
Work boots
Duct tape
Gas gift cards
Chainsaw bar oil
Two-stroke oil
Gas in cans
 *Many of these items can be purchased on
and shipped to Russell if you don't live in the area*

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