A mudslide in Washington State killed three people on Saturday, as well as critically injuring an infant and many others. Six houses were also destroyed by the natural disaster. The mudslide provoked an evacuation for residents in the area due to the rapidly rising water of the Stillaguamish River. Debris from the mudslide had blocked the North Fork of the river, and officials were concerned about downstream flooding if water were to break through the obstruction.
The landslide contained trees, mud and rocks and completely covered State Route 530, which is roughly 55 or so miles north of Seattle. Authorities in Snohomish County stated that the mudslide stretched more than 135 feet wide and 180 feet deep and occurred right before 11 a.m.
Authorities from Snohomish County reported that two people were killed at the location of the disaster and one of the individuals that were rescued passed away at the hospital. The remaining survivors were taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington where they were treated for their injuries.
Susan Gregg, the hospital spokeswoman, stated that the injured survivors included: two men in critical condition, ages 81 and 37, a young boy just 6 months of age in critical condition, and a man, 58, and a woman, 25, were in serious condition.
Five other injured victims from the mudslide were transported to Cascade Valley Hospital located in Arlington said hospital spokesperson Jennifer Egger. She mentioned that one person has already been cared for and released, and did not have the status of the others.
An eyewitness spoke to the Daily Herald about what he saw on the road before the natural disaster hit. Paulo Falcao stated that he viewed darkness spreading across the road and that everything disappeared in three seconds. Falcao quickly stopped to avoid the mudslide in Washington State, and was extremely lucky that he was not one of the three people who were killed. An evacuation shelter has been set up at Post Middle School in Arlington, and the American Red Cross arrived to assist victims at the hospital, and is asking for food, blankets, water, and clothing donations.
Ty Trenary, Snohomish County Sheriff, stated that rescuers are still on both sides of the mudslide and they will be searching all night through the debris to try to rescue people.
Officials believe the mudslide was caused by the ground water that became saturated from recent heavy rainfall. A flash flood watch has been issued by The National Weather Service for Snohomish County until Sunday afternoon.
People who resided near the North Fork and lived in the Oso and Stanwood communities were encouraged to travel to higher ground.
Authorities are hoping that the worst is over, but are still preparing for the possibility that the blockage could give way, which could cause damage and harm to more people.
John Pennington, a representative from the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, stated that the land in the North Fork plain area is unstable and that a mudslide also occurred in the same location in 2006. The mudslide in Washington State that killed three people took everyone by surprise, Pennington said.
By Amy Nelson