Mudslide Strikes Oso

Posted on April 24, 2014 by

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On 22 March, a mudslide ravaged the town of Oso, Washington. The town is about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

So far, 33 people are confirmed dead, and there are still 10 people missing. The mudslide covered a square mile, reaching 15 feet deep in some places. Some search and rescue crews measured debris 75 feet deep. Most places were unstable and quicksand-like.

Mudslides are caused by a lack of vegetation to soak up excess water. The combination of dirt and water flows to homes. Mudslides are activated by storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires, freezing and thawing, as well as the steepening of slopes by erosion.

Officials are building a rock and gravel barrier, called a berm, to prevent water from going into the search site.

“I was expecting someone to say, ‘I lost my brother or I lost my house and I’m angry’ — and that would have been OK. But today what we heard was, ‘I was in trouble and a stranger stopped and helped me. People say in times of disaster, it brings out the best and the worst in people. But I’m just seeing the best. I’m seeing patience and sacrifice. Character is being developed. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do hope for some unexpected blessings,” a pastor of the local church said.

“We are hoping for a miracle,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee told CNN. “We are going to do everything we can to look for that miracle and care for these (affected) families.”

This hillside along the north side of the Stillaguamish River has a history of landslides, with this natural disaster striking in 1937, 1942, 1949, 1951, 1967 and 1988.

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