The search team of professionals and volunteers have been working with crowbars, shovels, probes and tools from dawn until the dusk turns dark for a week now. There is clay like quick sand up to their thighs. Whenever they find human remains, they stop, mark the spot with GPS, and the remains are eventually removed using helicopters. Sometimes, when finding somebody underneath a pile of logs, they buck everything out of the way, digging it out by hand rather than by machine. The condition of some of the bodies has added to the difficulty of making identifications, the slide hit with such force that often the rescuers are not recovering full, intact victims.
Also, the entire mudslide site is believed to be contaminated with household chemicals, diesel and propane from heating tanks, mineral oil from transformers, and flammable gas tanks. The horrible situation is like a war scene.
At the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s in 1980 57 people died. The state’s deadliest natural disaster occurred on March 1, 1910, when an avalanche swept two passenger trains down a ravine near Stevens Pass, killing 96. It will probably be weeks until we know the death rate of the Oso mudslide. The neighborhoods along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River were only 180 people. A small community facing a great loss and unbearable difficulties, now and for many years ahead.
To state that a Facebook page would make a difference in this situation sounds silly. But I actually think it does. Snohomish County set one up 17 hours ago to help coordinate fundraising and relief efforts. There is a concert announced, a silent auction, different fundraisers and simply communication between people from near and far. 1493 people likes the page, increasing by the minute. Around eight times more than the population of the community, now sadly reduced with an unknown number.