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
The approximately 80 letters the county mailed last week include no formal offer but ask owners whether they would be willing to sell. The letters are intended to help with applications for federal grants, said Gary Haakenson, the county manager tasked with overseeing post-mudslide recovery.
“We have sent them out to people who were impacted by the slide, people who were impacted by flooding and (people) who we suspect may be impacted by future flooding,” Haakenson said.
The mudslide sent debris over a square-mile area, killing 43 people and leveling about 40 homes. The slide blocked the North Fork Stillaguamish River, flooding property to the east and altering who’s in danger from future floods.
The county wants to gauge interest in buyouts as part of the application process for hazard grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program is open to state, local and tribal governments after a major disaster declaration.
At this point, the county hasn’t said how much it would be prepared to pay. If FEMA dollars materialize, the county would set aside acquired properties as open space, Haakenson said.
The county promises it won’t use eminent domain if people are unwilling to sell.
“It doesn’t commit anybody to anything,” Haakenson said. “It allows us to go to FEMA and say, ‘This is the level of participation we would expect.’ In other words, if you don’t want to participate, we’re not going to take it away from you.”
For anyone who opts not to sell, it’s unclear what future use they might get from their property.
The County Council has discussed more restrictive land-use regulations near landslide danger zones. A hearing is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in council chambers.
Separately, county officials have initiated conversations about a permanent memorial at the site.
“First and foremost, this starts with the family members who have lost people, who have lost loved ones,” county parks director Tom Teigen said. “It’s going to be a long-term process. This is definitely going to take a significant amount of time and it’s going to go at the pace that they dictate.”
County parks officials are looking to other communities that have undertaken public memorials after large-scale tragedies. They include a memorial to the 1999 mass shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School, and one in Rapid City, South Dakota, where a park honors 238 people who died in a 1972 flood.
The state Department of Transportation has moved ahead with plans to rebuild Highway 530 by the end of October. State and county officials hosted community meetings about the work this week in Darrington and Arlington. Another meeting is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Oso Community Chapel, 22318 Highway 530.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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