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 in rescuing survivors, and the path to rebuilding on which the Stillaguamish Valley communities are traveling.

“These communities have shown that even in the most unimaginable devastation, people can come together in unity and persevere. They showed how light and hope can shine through, even in grief,” Cantwell said. “It is really hard to believe a year has gone by.”

Murray said everyone pitched in to help because every person had been affected. It is that spirit that is fueling their recovery, she said.

“There is one word that comes to mind when trying to explain what the people of Oso and Darrington are, at their core: resilient,” Murray said. “Their resiliency in the face of such unthinkable devastation is an inspiration to us all — we will always remember what it means to be Oso strong.”

The senators, both Democrats, spoke shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday.

Each shared their recollections from visiting the site and meeting with firefighters, residents and volunteers.

Murray told the story of Rhonda Cook, who went looking for her mising friend Summer Raffo, and continued digging in the debris to help find other victims, long after her friend’s body was found.

Cantwell recognized the efforts of Oso Fire Chief Willy Harper and Travis Hots, the Getchell fire chief who was the public face for the emergency response in the first days after the slide.

Each noted the value of federal aid for such emergency needs as housing and rebuilding Highway 530. And there was mention of passage of bill preserving Green Mountain Lookout, a popular destination for the community.

The region still needs the nation’s support, they said.

“Our work is far from done,” Murray said. “A disaster of this magnitude requires long-term assistance to help these communities respond, rebuild, and cope.”

Cantwell said this summer a plan will be released to help the valley economy “flourish in the future.”

“We have to remember the individuals we lost and how we have to move ahead,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy; it’s not going to be quick. But we will continue to build off of the strength that this community demonstrated in the aftermath of this disaster.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

Talk to us

More in Local News

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.
Mill Creek house fire leaves 1 dead

The fire was contained to a garage in the 15300 block of 25th Drive SE. A person was found dead inside.

Firefighters respond to a house fire Wednesday morning in the 3400 block of Broadway. (Everett Fire Department)
3 hospitalized in critical condition after Everett house fire

Firefighters rescued two people, one of whom uses a wheelchair, from the burning home in the 3400 block of Broadway.

The Walmart Store on 11400 Highway 99 on March 21, 2023 in in Everett, Washington. The retail giant will close the store on April 21, 2023. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Walmart announces Everett store on Highway 99 will close on April 21

The Arkansas-based retail giant said the 20-year-old Walmart location was “underperforming financially.”

Michael Tolley (Northshore School District)
Michael Tolley named new Northshore School District leader

Tolley, interim superintendent since last summer, is expected to inherit the position permanently in July.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
New forecast show state revenues won’t be quite as robust as expected

Democratic budget writers say they will be cautious but able to fund their priorities. Senate put out a capital budget Monday.

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Drive to build new AquaSox ballpark gets $7.4M boost from state

The proposed Senate capital budget contains critical seed money for the city-led project likely to get matched by the House.

Jennifer Rancourt
Bill to add District Court judge in Snohomish County nears finish

State House passed the legislation Wednesday. It now will be sent to the governor for his expected signing

The body of the suspected shooter is covered in a parking lot along Holly Drive on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald).
Providence: Everett officer discharged from hospital after shooting

The officer was “resting and recovering” after a person suspected of robbery shot him on Evergreen Way, police said.

Ron Thompson, a former resident of Steelhead Haven, places a sign marking the 9-year anniversary of the Oso landslide Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the landslide memorial site in Oso, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘It’s the closest I can be to them’: Nine years after the Oso mudslide

In the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, 43 people died. Families, survivors and responders honored the victims Wednesday.

Most Read