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The Oso Mudslide 03.22.2014

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The Herald's coverage of the Oso mudslide from March 22, 2014 to present.

    Judge limits extent of claims in Oso mudslide litigation

    OSO — A King County judge continues to weigh what claims can be brought in a 2016 civil trial that will explore whether anyone should be held responsible for the deadly Oso mudslide. King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff on Aug. 20 ruled that attorneys for the people harmed by the slide...

    Victims of Oso mudslide still await buyouts, 16 months later

    OSO — The wait seems endless, with dates that keep shifting and questions that go unanswered. Sixteen months after the massive mudslide, families who lost loved ones and houses aren't sure when they might see federal buyouts. For some, that means the difference between dreams of a new...

    Oso survivors pay forward support they once received

    ARLINGTON — There are 43 of them holding yellow ribbons that read “Oso Hope.” The stuffed bears, dogs and other critters were being sent to Eastern Washington. Local firefighters will carry them along as they assist with wildfires. The yellow ribbons, plus Subway gift cards, were added to the...

    Couple shared tragedy, loss of Oso, but found love

    CORDOVA, ALASKA — Debbie Durnell and Jerry Farnes plan to marry today near a cove overlooking Prince William Sound and the mountains of Heney Ridge. She will wear a lacy, cream white dress she found in a shop in Conway and brown, knee-high work boots. Debbie laughs when talking about the...

    Oso mudslide trial pushed to June 2016

    OSO — A civil trial to explore whether anyone should be held responsible for the deadly Oso mudslide now won’t happen until June 2016. King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff on Thursday granted a motion brought by the state, Snohomish County and a Skagit County timber company, seeking to...

    Study: Real cause of Oso mudslide still unknown

    OSO — A new study of the Oso mudslide released Friday sheds fresh light on the hillside's collapse last year. The study raises more questions than it answers, however, and researchers are still far from being able to point to a definitive cause. The hillside, which geologists knew by the...

    $6.6 million from feds to buy properties destroyed by Oso slide

    EVERETT — Families whose homes and land were destroyed in the Oso mudslide got some encouraging news Wednesday with the announcement that federal authorities had awarded Snohomish County $6.6 million for buyouts. That’s not the full $9.4 million the county wanted, but it should help ease the...

    Guide cancels controversial raft tour because of lower water levels

    OSO — The Stillaguamish River is too low to risk a second trip this summer past the site of the Oso mudslide, the guide of a controversial rafting tour said last week. Dave Button led one float trip past the slide area June 7. He has 70 people on a waiting list to take his next tour, he said. He...

    In Darrington, a slide reunion means laughter, tears

    DARRINGTON — It was encouraged, on Saturday at the Darrington rodeo grounds, to sit in the sun and drink a beer and share a laugh. The jokes had sharp edges, though, and the stories did, too. When folks who were affected by the Oso mudslide come together, it's OK to laugh, and it's OK to cry....

    Landslides take a toll on state’s economy

    Geologic processes have destroyed not just cities, but civilizations. In the Pacific Northwest, we are cognizant of the dangers of geologic processes such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Landslides are an omnipresent geologic process of our neighborhood. However, landslides are relegated as ...

    County Council likely to extend the slide-zone building moratorium

    EVERETT — When elected leaders passed an emergency building ban in areas around the Oso mudslide, they bought time to draft new rules for construction near steep, potentially dangerous slopes anywhere in Snohomish County. A year later, those regulations remain a work in progress. The County ...

    Oso mudslide volunteers and responders rekindle friendships at reunion

    DARRINGTON — They struck up friendships in the most trying of circumstances. They probed the swampy wasteland looking for signs of life and later bodies. Their mission was physically demanding and emotionally exhausting. They cut, cooked, dug, lifted, sifted and sometimes prayed. Many...

    Retired first responders will speak with those affected by Oso

    ARLINGTON — Disasters don't have end dates. They ripple through a community for decades. Recovery is a lifelong journey, not a race to the finish line, but sometimes the people who need help most are the first to say they're fine. Three retired first responders from the East Coast who now...

    Families of Oso slide victims plan to sue slide tour company

    OSO — Families of Oso slide victims say they are preparing to sue a man who is taking people on river rafting tours through the slide zone. KIRO-TV reported that David Button initially delayed plans to take people down the Stillaguamish, after some people protested in March. However, this past...

    Is county responsible for Oso? Judge begins sorting through claims

    EVERETT — A King County judge has begun making clear what claims may be pressed in the legal battle to decide whether anyone can be held responsible for the deaths and damage caused by the Oso mudslide. Under state law that encourages governments to tackle flood problems, Snohomish County...

    Oso General Store in danger of closing

    OSO — The owner of the Oso General Store is struggling to keep her business afloat just three months after opening. KOMO-TV reports Jana Hecla is having a hard time staying in business, despite the unique history that the store has hidden beneath its old floor. Hecla says there is a trap door that ...

    Exhibit shows vivid images of Oso before and after slide

    Phil Eidenberg-Noppe had been there. Two years before a hillside gave way with monstrous force, destroying the Steelhead Haven neighborhood and claiming 43 lives, he was there taking pictures. After the Oso mudslide, in June and November 2014, he returned to find a place forever transformed by...

    Delayed disaster response in Oso prompts new law

    OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday plugged a gap in state law that prevented the rapid call-up and deployment of fire resources from throughout Washington to the Oso mudslide. Inslee signed a new law ensuring firefighting resources can be mobilized statewide to respond to natural...

    Darrington mayor receives national award for leadership

    DARRINGTON — The mayor here is preparing for a White House visit to accept a national award for leadership after the deadly Oso mudslide. Meanwhile, a Darrington-Arlington partnership aimed at enlivening local business development has won the towns $50,000 and a spot in the quarterfinals of...

    New technology can help reduce risks from landslides

    The Pacific Northwest's endowment of natural beauty is the result of geologic processes. Volcanism, earthquakes and glaciation have formed our landscape. One of the ubiquitous geologic processes of our landscape are landslides. They are an ongoing, continual natural phenomenon of our environment....

    Anonymous gift pays off Oso mudslide survivor's mortgage

    ARLINGTON — An anonymous donor has paid off the mortgage of Oso mudslide survivor Tim Ward, whose wife, Brandy, was killed in the disaster and whose home was destroyed. JPMorgan Chase said in an email Wednesday that the remaining money owed on the loan, more than $350,000, was paid last week ...

    Governor signs law for geologic hazards mapping

    OLYMPIA — A new law signed by the governor Friday aims to give residents a wealth of new information about geologic dangers lurking in Washington. Now the challenge is getting enough money in the next state budget to make it happen. The bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee directs the Department of...

    County public works and WSDOT win award for post-mudslide road rebuild

    OSO — The agencies that hurried to rebuild Highway 530 after the deadly mudslide here, which isolated Darrington from the rest of Snohomish County, are receiving national recognition for their work. The American Public Works Association awarded its first President's Special Recognition Award ...

    Landslide-mapping bill approved and sent to governor

    OLYMPIA — The first major change in state policy inspired by the Oso mudslide cleared the final legislative hurdle Wednesday. The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a Senate bill directing the Department of Natural Resources to expand advanced landform mapping and make the...

    Mortgages still on the books for homes wiped out by Oso disaster

    OSO — Last year's devastating mudslide grabbed the country's attention. Legions of disaster responders swarmed the Stillaguamish Valley, and millions of dollars in relief money poured in. The charitable departments of several large banks, including Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, even sent...

    WSU students travel to help Stilly Valley communities

    ARLINGTON — The walkway leading up to the circular building wasn't obvious. It took volunteers a few trips to realize there was cement under the tangle of weeds, moss and ivy. Two days later, the paved path bordered by neatly trimmed bushes and beauty bark led up to a set of newly cleaned...

    To be human and journalist

    OSO — Eric Stevick's interviews take time. He talks to Dayn Brunner, a man who spent 39 days searching through the Oso mudslide that claimed 43 lives a year ago. That included Brunner's sister, Summer Raffo. Stevick, a reporter with The (Everett) Daily Herald, speaks slowly and pauses often....

    Disaster response bill likely to pass

    OLYMPIA — Lawmakers seem certain to pass a bill to ensure that statewide fire-fighting resources can be mobilized for disasters such as the Oso mudslide. On Monday, the state Senate Government Operations and Security Committee conducted a hearing on a House bill that would modify state law...

    Messages of love lift up from Oso

    OSO — Highway 530 is dark and quiet hours after hundreds gathered for a remembrance ceremony, marking one year since the slide. Rain fluctuates between showers and sprinkles. Suddenly, an Oso fire truck appears, lights flashing, leading a caravan of about two dozen cars carrying the mothers,...

    Oso memorial will take time, careful planning

    OSO — It's too soon to build a memorial. For the last year, that's been the consensus of families who lost loved ones in the Oso mudslide. Snohomish County staff are working with relatives of the 43 people who died on March 22, 2014, to determine if, when and where a memorial eventually...

    Raising of flag marks moment of grace in Oso

    OSO — The first year has passed since the land above Steelhead Drive betrayed the people who lived there and swallowed them up. The broken hill looked down Sunday morning, keeping its peace, never to be trusted again. Hundreds of men, women and children whose lives have changed gathered...

    Bells toll for 43 victims at solemn Oso mudslide remembrance

    OSO — It wasn't about one person. It wasn't about one moment. It was about all the people who came together to fight against the mud last spring, and the pain each has carried every day since the hill fell. A year had passed Sunday since the mudslide that took 43 people and changed so many ...

    Darrington honors longtime librarian taken by the Oso mudslide

    This is a good thing. This is a happy place. Those sentiments were shared Saturday at a Darrington Library ceremony honoring Linda McPherson, the library’s longtime manager. One of 43 people lost a year ago in the Oso mudslide, McPherson, 69, had also served nearly two decades on the Darrington...

    Slide survivor Tim Ward reflects on a year accomplished

    ARLINGTON — Tim Ward keeps thinking about the meaning of time. He's still working it out in his mind, what the hours, days and weeks are supposed to measure. Today, a year has passed since he survived the mudslide that took his bride, Brandy, and their life together on Steelhead Drive. The...

    Public safety officials learned lessons from Oso catastrophe

    OSO — Public safety officials have spent the past year studying lessons from the catastrophe in Oso to prepare for the next disaster. They're building skill sets for professionals — police, firefighters and emergency managers. They're also looking to prepare regular people who might...

    'All I can say is thank you;' Oso survivors meet their rescuers

    One year ago today, dozens of men and women rushed to help victims of what would become the deadliest mudslide in American history. The Herald asked several survivors and their rescuers to return to the slide area for this series of portraits. For several, it was their first meeting since March 22 ...

    About 350 people gather at prayer service to remember victims

    DARRINGTON — People shook hands and shared embraces before bowing their heads in prayer and raising their voices in song to mark a year since the weekend of the deadly Oso mudslide. About 350 people came together Friday evening for a Gathering in Hope at the Darrington Community Center. They ...

    Rules for building in landslide-prone areas virtually unchanged

    EVERETT — Snohomish County's rules for building near potential landslide dangers remain more or less unchanged from when the deadly Oso mudslide hit a year ago. The County Council is likely to enact stricter regulations by mid-year, beyond the temporary construction ban already in place for...

    Victims often struggle silently, reluctant to seek help

    OSO — On March 13, LoAnna Langton sorted through the photographs she'd recovered from the home she lost one year ago. The house she and her family lived in was flooded by the North Fork Stillaguamish River after it was blocked by a mudslide on March 22, 2014. “Today was the first day...

    Herald journalists share stories of covering Oso tragedy in new video

    Last month, students from Washington State University traveled to Oso and Darrington with journalists from The Daily Herald. The students, who are journalism and media production majors at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, documented the Herald's coverage of the community as the...

    These towns still stand

    Even nearly 14 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it's impossible to look at the New York City skyline and not think about what is missing, not just the buildings, but the lives. It will be the same in the Upper Stillaguamish Valley, 14 years from now, 30 years from now, looking up ...

    United Way, Red Cross continue work to aid recovery

    As we mark one year since the Oso landslide, the American Red Cross and United Way remain committed to the long-term recovery of the Stillaguamish Valley. In the immediate hours following this complex and unprecedented disaster, the nature of this recovery became clear: It would be a marathon, not...

    ‘Oso strong’ spirit a great example for all

    One year ago, lives changed in a matter of seconds. Part of a mountainside slid into the Steelhead Haven neighborhood, claiming 43 lives, numerous homes and roads. The people of Oso, Darrington, Arlington, the Stillaguamish Tribe and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe will never be the same, but I have faith ...

    Kuntz family dreams of having their own property again some day

    DARRINGTON — It's baseball season again. Quinton Kuntz has a new mitt. The first home game is Saturday. It's a slice of familiar for a family rebuilding a life that changed a year ago. On March 22, Cory and Julie Kuntz were driving to Tacoma for Quinton's high school baseball game when...

    Sens. Murray and Cantwell reflect on year since slide, ponder future

    Washington's two U.S. senators took to the Senate floor Thursday to reflect on what's transpired in year since the nation's deadliest mudslide struck Oso. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell spoke of the 43 lives lost on March 22, 2014, the heroism demonstrated by residents and first responders...

    Grief lingers for woman whose baby and mom died in the mudslide

    OSO — Natasha Huestis dreamed of the day she could hike with her daughter into the mountains. Their exploration would be her gift, her lesson, her celebration of their bond. It is why she called her baby Sanoah, a name she was told means “Mist in the Mountains” in Hawaiian. The ...

    Medal of Valor presented to Oso mudslide communities

    OLYMPIA — There were tears, smiles and — thanks to a logger named Quinn Nations — a touch of politics Wednesday as Darrington, Oso, Arlington and the Sauk-Suiattle tribe received the state Medal of Valor for selfless and heroic actions in response to the deadly Oso mudslide....

    Remember Oso victims, donate to relief efforts

    Events Friday The Gathering of Hope service of remembrance is set for 7 p.m. at the Darrington Community Center gymnasium, 570 Sauk Ave. The multi-denominational gathering will include prayers, readings and messages of hope from pastors throughout the Stillaguamish Valley, with refreshments and...

    Son lost to slide will always be remembered with love

    DARRINGTON — Their son's touch is all around them. It is in the log bed where they sleep at night. It's in the coffee table and patio chairs, the mirror hanging on the kitchen wall and in the magazine rack with the word “Mom” and two hearts burned into the wood. Alan Bejvl was...

    After mudslide, nothing could keep teen from his dad's side

    DARRINGTON — Simple sounds — the snap of a pencil, a drip in the sink — take Riley Brunner back a year to a wet wasteland of massive gray dunes and ravaged homes. That is what the debris fields west of town seemed like to him: a vast desert of despair. At 16, and 130 pounds...