Oso fundraising coming to an end with millions raised

OSO — Five months after a mudslide wiped out a neighborhood and cut the nearby town of Darrington off from the rest of the county, the massive fundraising effort that fueled much of the recovery effort to date is winding up.

The three largest relief organizations involved together have raised more than $9.1 million in response to the March 22 slide, which killed 43 people and destroyed or damaged 48 homes.

United Way of Snohomish County and the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation together have raised more than $4.5 million since the slide and have been closely coordinating how that money is being distributed.

While the two agencies have distributed about $3 million, nearly all of it has been earmarked for a specific purpose and will be distributed over the next two years.

The American Red Cross, meanwhile, also has raised $4.5 million since the slide and has distributed or otherwise earmarked $2 million of that, with the balance being kept in reserve.

The three agencies have different organizational structures and functions: United Way and the hospital foundation are locally based, while the Red Cross is a national organization with significant overhead to manage rapid response to disasters.

But all three have shifted their strategies to respond to the evolving needs of the communities affected by the mudslide, focusing more on long-term needs now.

On the ground, North Counties Family Services in Darrington and the Arlington Family Resource Project have received much of the financial support that gets passed directly to the people affected by the slide.

“What we will do is work with the family support centers to distribute those dollars over the next two years as the need arises,” said Dennis Smith, CEO of United Way of Snohomish County.

For example, the United Way set aside money to finance — through the Salvation Army — the hiring of a case manager to work at the two service centers for the next two years. That money comes from donations by corporate or institutional donors.

Even more money has been received from individual donors — about 73 percent of the total. That pool of money has been distributed to the family service centers or to other community organizations, such as the Oso Fireman’s Fund that provide direct aid to individuals and families.

Going forward, it’s hoped that at least 70 percent of the money raised will go toward such direct assistance, Smith said.

A similar system is in place at the Red Cross, said regional executive director Chuck Morrison, although the exact breakdown wasn’t immediately available.

“A certain percent is anticipated for individual needs, but everything else will be driven by what the community tells us,” Morrison said.

That guidance comes from case managers working in communities to assess individual needs, and it informs what is called the Unmet Needs Group — leaders from various charities and organizations who meet weekly to make decisions on funding.

Those case managers have been the key to making sure money is making it into the hands of those who need it, said Wyonne Perrault, the executive director of North Counties Family Services.

Some families, Perrault said, have identified needs that will require money over a longer term.

“We know that winter’s around the corner and we know some folks are not yet into the housing they want to be in,” she said.

Others might need help with ongoing medical concerns, she said.

“This is a marathon, not a race,” she said.

While donations to the larger organizations has slowed, United Way and the hospital foundation still have about $1.75 million in reserve, earmarked for the needs of individuals and families over the next couple of years.

So far, United Way and the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation have provided about $860,000 to the two family service centers. About 83 percent of that money has been passed on to families who lost someone or their primary home in the slide. The remaining 17 percent has helped those who were economically inconvenienced, but not devastated, by the slide. For example, some needed gas cards for help in covering the cost of a suddenly longer commute.

The amount provided by the Red Cross was not immediately available.

“We will assess each case going forward as needs are identified. We’re going to be there when they need that assistance,” Morrison said.

Chris Winters: 425- 374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_at_Herald.

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Agency didn’t expect such big demand for needle clean-up kits

The Snohomish Health District ran out of supplies quickly, but more are arriving daily.

EvCC teachers take their contract concerns to the board

Their union says negotiations have been disappointingly slow. The community college isn’t commenting.

Here’s what to do if you want to vote and aren’t registered

Oct. 30 is the deadline for new-voter registration in time for the November election.

Two teens struck by truck in Lynnwood

The teens, between the ages of 14 and 16, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

Injured hiker rescued near Granite Falls

Woman fell and hit her head on a rock Saturday, and her condition worsened overnight.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Most Read