Oso Strong, Oso Compassionate

By now, you’ve heard about the massive mudslide in Oso that took the lives of 43 people on March 22nd. I live just downriver from there. Everyone here knows someone directly affected by this disaster. It’s going to take years for a full recovery, if that’s at all possible. Most of the folks who lost homes, families and…well…everything, still owe mortgages on those properties. The local businesses and farms are also feeling the pinch, with the highway being closed until at least next fall. So many of them rely on the tourist trade during the summer.

The stories I keep hearing of the lengths people went to help their neighbors and friends are amazing. Here are a few:

  • When the slide happened, the river started immediately backing up, flooding the homes and farms of those east of the slide area. One woman knew that her neighbors, whose farm was quickly being inundated, were down in Seattle for the day. So, she got to their farm, jumped on the back of one of the horses, and led the other 6 horses through chest-deep water to safety.
  • My volunteer fire department, Snohomish County FD #19, decided to turn their annual fund raising event into a benefit for the Oso firefighter who lost his wife, granddaughter and home in the slide. They will make up their annual funds some other way.
  • One Search & Rescue professional who worked on the site said that it was the first time in his many years of dealing with disasters, that local volunteers and family members worked right along side him.
  • People used their vacation time to come to Arlington and wash clothes for the volunteers. Students wrote thank you notes and they were included in the clean laundry returned to the search and rescue volunteers.

The list goes on.

If you’d like to help those affected by this tragedy, Snohomish County has a page that lists where you can donate or volunteer.