Mudslide Tragedy: Donations Outpace Capacity In Oso
Gabriella Botamanenko (center left) hugs her mother, Angela Botamanenko, during a vigil for mudslide victims at the Darrington Community Center Saturday. A March 22 mudslide in a nearby community killed at least 30 and left many missing. David Ryder/Getty Images
It’s been two weeks since the massive mudslide came down on a tiny mountain community in Washington state. The disaster killed 30 people; 13 are still missing. The tragedy prompted an outpouring of donations — and officials in Oso say they don’t have room for more items.
Federal disaster relief officials are visiting the site Sunday, as member station KUOW’s Sara Lerner reports for our Newscast unit:
“Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will survey the damage. And they say they want to meet some of the locals from Oso, Darrington and Arlington who’ve been affected by the landslide.
“They say they’d like meet responders, too — some of the people who’ve been at the slide zone day after day, searching to find more victims. Federal agencies are more involved after President Obama declared the mudslide a ‘major disaster.’
“Meanwhile, officials say the public has been generous to send so many donated items. But they’re asking only for monetary donations now.
“They say there’s truly no more room — nowhere to put more items like gloves, tools, socks, even diapers.”
In Oso, most of the donations are being wrangled by Shirley Clark, who recently showed KUOW’s Patricia Murphy around a facility that includes everything from Girl Scout cookies to mattresses.
Clark works to support victims of the slide, as well as the volunteers who have been working at the site. She says her daughter asked her to coordinate the collections center.
“I’ve gone through a lot personally in the last few years and have been strengthened and renewed and gotten my family situations and my kids all grown up, ” she said. “About a week before this happened, I was saying to members of my church, ‘I think I’m ready, now what’s next?’ “
In the area around Oso, vigils and memorial services are being held this weekend — what the Seattle Times calls “a new phase of communal grieving that will extend throughout this month.”
Around 400 people attended a service for Linda McPherson, a retired librarian and school board member.
“She had just borrowed my scrapbook so she could plan a trip to Norway this summer,” Ellen Phillips tells the Times. Saying that McPherson had been her mentor, Phillips added, “She was a role model for a lot of people.”