With new FEMA money, county can buy all Oso mudslide tracts November 19, 2015
Timber company loses bid to avoid Oso mudslide litigation November 2, 2015
Interior secretary at Oso: Funding needed for scientific research October 16, 2015
Timber company says it bears no responsibility in Oso mudslide October 2, 2015
Judge limits extent of claims in Oso mudslide litigation August 26, 2015
Victims of Oso mudslide still await buyouts, 16 months later August 3, 2015
Oso survivors pay forward support they once received July 13, 2015
Couple shared tragedy, loss of Oso, but found love July 5, 2015
Oso mudslide trial pushed to June 2016 July 2, 2015
Study: Real cause of Oso mudslide still unknown June 27, 2015
Rescue crews said Sunday that many of the dogs that have been essential in the search for victims will take a two-day break. Days of sniffing through cold, soupy mud and nearly nonstop rain have taken their toll on the animals, and officials say dogs can lose their sensing ability if they work too long.
“The conditions on the slide field are difficult, so this is just a time to take care of the dogs,” said Kris Rietmann, lead spokeswoman for the team working on the eastern portion of the slide.
Dogs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more recent arrivals on the scene, will continue working, said Heidi Amrine, another spokeswoman for the operation.
Engineers were watching for any material sloughing off the landslide area, making sure that a weekend of torrential rainfall doesn’t displace more land.
Meanwhile, many residents attended church services for solace ahead of another week of recovery efforts.
“I can only compare it to a hot hearty meal after a very cold day,” Slava Botamanenko of Darrington said of the church services.
Botamanenko works at the hospital in Arlington and said he spent two nights there to be sure he was available for work after the slide shut the road.
Searchers have had to contend with treacherous conditions.
The search area has septic tanks, gasoline, propane tanks and other hazards. When rescuers and search dogs leave, they’re hosed off by hazardous materials crews stationed at the edges of the debris field.
The slide dammed up the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, causing water to pool up on the east side. The river cut a new channel through the mud, but torrential weekend rainfall has raised the water level nearly a foot, Rietmann said Sunday.
In at least one place, the water level has risen so high that it’s covered areas that have already been searched by Snohomish County responders, said Tim Pierce, leader of Washington Task Force 1, a search and rescue team.
“At this point there’s no point in searching (that area) again until the water drops back down,” Pierce said.
Rescuers should get some relief soon. Mainly dry weather is forecast Monday through Wednesday in Western Washington.
The size of the debris field is also smaller than initially thought, officials said Sunday. After further scientific review and analysis, geologists have determined that the size of the debris field is about 300 acres in size. That’s just under half the size of the earlier projected one square mile.
Away from the whirring chain saws and roaring bulldozers, many residents of the nearby community of Darrington sought quiet comfort in church services.
All week, a steady stream of people has stopped in to pray at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God on the edge of town, Senior Pastor Les Hagen said.
“At a time like this, everybody knows they’ve got to have God’s help,” Hagen said.
Steve Huot, lead chaplain for the Arlington Fire Department, is seeing people in varying emotional states related to the disaster. Some are in shock while others seem to have grasped the grim reality of the situation. Many are exhausted. He said there’s nothing “key” to say to people.
“It’s more about listening right now. You need to encourage them and maybe change their focus to staying busy for the group, for the team,” he said. “You might need to drive them into something productive and make sure that they feel a sense of accomplishment and contribution.”
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