By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
The Highway 530 roadblock cuts off Arlington’s direct link to the mudslide site and Darrington. That hasn’t stopped a steady flow of compassion, food, supplies and cash from Arlington to those places where searchers continue their monumental job and families mourn stunning losses.
“We honestly have that hometown love for each other,” said Taylor Jones, 36, who owns Arlington Hardware &Lumber. “That feeling — ‘What can we do?’ — is really spreading, and turning into something just incredible.”
At his downtown store, Jones has spent this week donating and sending supplies to rescue and recovery crews. The store is getting calls from people across the state asking to donate.
“In the early part of the week, we were donating directly to the Oso fire and emergency service crew,” Jones said. The husband of one of his employees works for the Oso Fire Department, so at the store they heard about immediate needs.
“We’ve had a lot of direct contact with firemen. They were asking for gloves, hand warmers, basic work stuff,” said Jones. Other needs include big trash bags, socks and laundry detergent, he said.
Cash donated at the store has gone to the Oso Community Chapel’s food bank, Jones said. The store is now taking donations via credit cards, which are applied to gift cards used to buy more supplies, Jones said. “We are giving deep discounts,” he added. “I don’t think we’ve made a dime here in the last five days.”
His store is affiliated with Ace Hardware, which donated a truckload of garbage cans and plastic containers. Those are being delivered to crews on the Oso and Darrington sides of the slide.
“They’re trying to separate the personal belongings of victims,” Jones said.
His customers have taken on delivery duties. Arlington’s Dean Jensen, who owns West Coast Excavating, “showed up first thing this morning,” Jones said Thursday. “We put the trash cans in his dump truck. We have multiple guys like that, all our logging crews.”
There’s no need to own a business to help in a big way.
A week ago, Arlington’s Amanda Davidson and Kara Brown of Marysville were strangers. They are now good friends.
On Wednesday, generous shoppers were helping the women fill two 12-foot trailers in the parking lot of Arlington’s Food Pavilion store.
The women were making a long drive to Darrington on Thursday, after several such trips since Sunday.
They have delivered truckloads of nonperishable food, paper and hygiene products, and bottled water for search crews, or to be used at the Darrington Community Center and Darrington Food Bank.
Brown, 29, and Davidson, 22, met on Facebook right after Saturday’s mudslide. Both had posted that they wanted to find ways to help.
By Sunday, they were at Food Pavilion with trucks pulling big trailers.
A steady stream of shoppers approached Wednesday to hand them full grocery bags, cash and checks.
Money they collect is being deposited into the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation Disaster Fund at Union Bank. All of it will be used by the area’s nonprofit agencies for mudslide relief and recovery, said Tina Davis, branch manager of Arlington’s Union Bank. Davis said a 3-year-old girl had given about $40 from her piggy bank.
Alan Gulick, a Union Bank spokesman in Everett, said the fund’s balance was more than $300,000 by midday Thursday.
Food Pavilion manager Loly Ramirez said one person donated a $1,000 check Wednesday. “This has gotten a lot bigger than Kara and I first talked about,” Ramirez said.
Davidson and Brown planned to be back in the Food Pavilion parking lot from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday.
Jones grew up in Arlington and spent summers working on an Oso farm. He has seen his hometown respond to floods, ice storms and power outages. The mudslide is unprecedented, but Jones isn’t surprised by the outpouring of help.
Gail Moffett, who works at Arlington Hardware, said people have come in to donate $100 bills and boots. “In a few hours today, we collected $800 in called-in donations — that doesn’t count walk-ins,” she said Thursday.
“It’s the reason we love old Arlington,” Jones said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
Helpers in Arlington
All Union Bank branches are accepting donations to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation Disaster Fund. All money will go to nonprofit groups to be used for mudslide relief and recovery.
Amanda Davidson and Kara Brown are collecting nonperishable items and cash for the fund 10 a.m.-6 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday outside Arlington’s Food Pavilion, 146 E Haller Ave. Goods are being delivered to Darrington.
Donations for supplies for searchers are being accepted at Arlington Hardware and Lumber, 215 N. Olympic Ave., Arlington. 360-435-5523.