Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

FEMA DIRECTOR NAME CORRECTION: April 6 PM Update

 

Arlington, Wash. – Of the nearly 900 searchers and support personnel assisting in the Oso slide recovery effort, 350 are National Guard soldiers. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office has identified 29 of the 30 victims; 13 people are missing. An update is expected Monday morning, April 7.

An amphibious backhoe has been added to the east side of the search site where 267 acres are flooded near the Stillaguamish River. This is in addition to the 30 excavators currently in operation. Overnight rain caused water levels to increase up to a half foot in some areas. Warmer temperatures are projected for the next couple of weeks with some intermittent rainfall, which will aid search efforts.

The Army Corps of Engineers is assisting the county with construction of a temporary berm to reduce flood impacts and prevent near-term flooding of SR 530 near milepost 37 at C Post Road, where searchers have ongoing and planned recovery activities. The March 22 mudslide constricted flow of the Stillaguamish River and caused flooding upstream.

Hundreds of searchers continue the complex and laborious work of combing 40-foot by 40-foot sections of the expansive search site. Each section is slightly smaller than half a basketball court. After search dogs and searchers complete a search of the surface of the designated section, a team of searchers use excavators to painstakingly remove debris and mud in layers--two to four feet at a time--until they reach native soil. Safety continues to be a top priority for personnel and search dogs.

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray, Representative Suzan DelBene, FEMA Director Craig Fugate, Governor Jay Inslee and other local officials were briefed on the ongoing efforts, met with first responders and reiterated their continued support.

A private memorial service was held today, and one service will be held tomorrow. These services are private and closed to all but invited media. Please respect the privacy of the victims' friends and families.

The Darrington access road remains closed to the public and is strictly for operation and emergency responder traffic only.

A regularly scheduled community meeting will be held Monday at 7 p.m ., at the Darrington Community Center, 570 Sauk Ave, Darrington, WA 98241. Media are welcome to attend, but are requested to leave recording devices outside.

Due to the overwhelming outpouring of donated items, local support organizations are inundated and cannot handle the volume. Anyone looking for how to help can find a list of trusted 501(c)3 charities collecting monetary donations on Snohomish County's SR 530 slide resources page:http://snohomishcountywa.gov/530Slide.

As part of the response efforts, volunteers are collecting, cleaning and organizing personal property recovered from the slide. The process for reunification of property will be formalized over the next several weeks and family members will be contacted to identify and reclaim these personal items. To help protect the property of victims and their families, the location of the reunification site will not be disclosed.

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