Mudslide panel to update Legislature on findings

OLYMPIA — A state Senate panel Thursday will get a progress report on the work of an independent commission examining emergency response and land-use decisions surrounding the devastating Oso mudslide

Kathy Lombardo, executive director of the Joint S.R. 530 Landslide Commission, will update the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee which is gathering information on recovery efforts, costs and lessons for dealing with future large-scale natural disasters.

Oso Fire Chief Willy Harper, Pete Selvig of the Darrington emergency response team and Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert are slated to appear before the Senate panel, too.

The work session is set to begin at 10 a.m. in Hearing Room 1 of the J.A. Cherberg Building on the Capitol campus. TVW will stream it live online at www.tvw.org.

Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, the committee’s chairman, scheduled the meeting. He represents the 39th Legislative District which includes Oso and neighboring cities of Arlington and Darrington.

“As a person who has been there a lot, this is a chance to educate other senators to what’s going on from people who have spent countless hours dealing with the disaster and its outcome,” Pearson said.

“It is crucial that we hear directly from the folks in those communities about the recovery efforts, what support they still need and how we at the Legislature can be a part of providing that support,” Pearson said.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick created the commission following the March mudslide in which 43 people perished.

Its tasks include establishing a timeline of events and conducting a review of the emergency response including search and rescue, recovery of victims, and coordination among local, county, state, tribal and federal governments. It also will propose changes to policies, codes or operational procedures,

The 12-member panel is to deliver its recommendations to the state and county by Dec. 15.

Pearson said he’ll consider introducing legislation once the commission findings are released.

“I do anticipate there will be something coming out next session,” he said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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