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FEATURE NEWS

DEATH TOLL RISES TO 16 IN MASSIVE OSO SLIDEA AREA
Remains of eight other bodies are
located but not retrieved

March 26, 2014




Aerial view of the huge ladnslide area and water backed up from the Stillaguamish River. WSDOT photo.


Larger image of above. CLICK TO ENLARGE


Travis Hots, Chief of Snohomish County Fire Districts 21 and 22 announced that on Tuesday the death count had risen to 16, plus eight bodies that had been found but not yet recovered.


Aerial view of the slide area and water backing up from the Stillaguamish River. Photo from Washington Governor Jay Inslee's plane. CLICK TO ENLARGE


Another aerial view of the slide area. Photo from Washington Governor Jay Inslee's plane. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Update: Flood Warning Extended for Oso Slide area

Just after 4:30 pm Wednesday the National Weather Service in Seattle extended the Flood Warning for north Snohomish County until 6:00 pm Friday.

The landslide that has blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River since March 22 has backed up water upstream of the blockage east of Oso causing flooding of homes and roads in that area including State Route 530, about a mile of which is still blocked by the slide debris.

The weather service says "flooding will continue until the New River channel is big enough to drain the lake formed behind the blockage."

At present the backed up river water is moving around the slide area in a New River channel and this is expected to continue. The Flood Warning will continue until there is confirmation that the flooding upstream of the blockage has ended.

A Flood Warning means flooding is occurring or imminent. Most flood related deaths occur in automobiles. Do not attempt to cross water, covered bridges, dips or low water crossings during flooding and never try to cross a flowing stream, even a small one, on foot. To escape rising water move up to higher ground.


(OSO, WASHINGTON) -- Search officials announced Tuesday evening that the confirmed death toll from the massive mudslide near Oso, Washington had risen to 16 with the recovery of two more bodies.

They have also found the locations of eight other deceased individuals but their remains have not yet been recovered from the debris field.

In terms of those people unaccounted for, John Pennington Director of the Snohomish County Emergency Management Department says they are sticking with the number 176 until Wednesday, adding that since Internet connections have been re-established in the Darrington area that number keeps shifting and it is very fluid.

Search officials say the over 200 responders on site including volunteers will be out again tomorrow trying to find victims of the catastrophe.

Travis Hots, Chief of Snohomish County Fire Districts 21 and 22 said Tuesday's rain brought searchers, "A very challenging day today with the rain, that just further complicated things...we continued our search and recovery operation of the entire slide area, unfortunately we didn't find any signs of life and we didn't locate anybody alive."

He said they did recover "two additional fatalities today" and that brings the fatality rate to sixteen. "We've located another eight fatalities however we have not recovered those at this time," added Chief Tots.

He added that the rescue and recovery effort is using a tremendous amount of resources in the effort to still locate possible survivors of the huge slide including Snohomish County Sheriff's office helicopters, Snohomish County Volunteer Search & Rescue personnel and, "Search and cadaver dogs, we've got the FEMA urban search and rescue team, there's about 70 of those members coming...we've got heavy equipment on site as well...everything from dozers to small excavator bobcats."

In addition a National Guard team is there as well as are the regional technical rescue teams that Hots says have been working the area tirelessly to locate the deceased and hopefully find someone that is alive somewhere under the debris.

Hots says finding survivors is still their number one priority but it is a slow going process due to the extremely challenging search area which still contains lots of thick mud as well as twisted and broken metal from cars and trucks, rocks, trees and tree limbs and the debris of destroyed houses including propane tanks.

FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTER FOR THOSE WHO HAVE LOST LOVED ONES

Emergency Management Director Pennington also announced on Tuesday that a Family Assistance Center will be established Wednesday in the Arlington area for the relatives of those who have lost loved ones in the tragedy.

He added that the center is not for families that have been displaced by the slide, that this center is about "Unifying and bringing information together for those that are in that grieving process and helping them directly and with extraordinary privacy."

He also asked members of the media that, if they find the location of the Center they respect the privacy of those that are grieving the loss of loved ones.

Pennington says those residents who have been displaced from their homes because of the mudslide and need temporary housing should call the county's hotline for reunification, evacuations and temporary housing at 425-388-5088 if they have not done so already.

Temporary housing is made available through Snohomish County Human Services and the Red Cross.

EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION

It was announced Tuesday that the Snohomish County bus system Community Transit is finalizing a plan for emergency transportation to and from Darrington.

The plan, not yet finalized is to connect residents with grocery and medical services in Skagit County and job centers in Arlington and Everett.

The buses will leave Darrington in an early morning hour to the Chuckanut Park N' Ride and then to go to Everett. Officials said details on that will be announced when they become available.

THE SLIDE CALL CENTER

Starting Wednesday officials will operate the slide call center (425-388-5088) from 6::00 am to 8:00 pm. After 8pm Wednesday the call center will transition to a recorded "tip line" that will not be monitored in real time but will be checked on a regular basis.

To send an email to the slide call center use this address: demcallcenter@snoco.org


GENERAL RESOURCES FOR FAMILY & FRIENDS:

·      Reunification: If a loved one is missing in the slide, please call Snohomish County at 425-388-5088. Officials are trying to consolidate list of missing persons.

·      Red Cross Safe and Well: Those directly affected by the mudslide can register "I'm OK" at the website safeandwell.org. List yourself or search registrants.

·      Snohomish County Ongoing Emergency Information: Follow on Twitter@snocounty for local updates or view the County emergency web page.

·      Washingon State Governors Office Oso Landslide Resourceshttp://governor.wa.gov/news/landslide/default.aspx
      

You can donate to the Red Cross to help victims of the Oso landslide here: https://www.redcross.org/quickdonate/index.jsp





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