A rain-soaked hill collapsed on March 22, unleashing a deluge of mud that was stunning in the speed with which it smothered dozens of homes in a river valley near the rural town of Oso, Wash., some 55 miles northeast of Seattle. There was no warning at all for people in the homes or for those just passing through. As of Friday, 17 people were confirmed dead and at least 90 were still missing.
With each passing day and each additional body found, the story seemed to get more heartbreaking. On Thursday, the body of a 4-month-old girl was found in the debris not far from where her grandmother’s body was found Sunday. And the relatives of those still missing knew they were not waiting for a rescue but only for closure like that found by Natasha Huestis. “We found my mom and we found baby Sanoah,” she said. “It’s an absolute relief. Now we can move on to the next part.”
The possibility that dozens more may still be buried in the debris pile means the mudslide has the potential to place Oso, with a population of about 180, among the worst tragedies in Washington state history.
The 1980 of Mount St. Helens eruption killed 57 people, and a 1910 avalanche near Stevens Pass swept away two trains and killed 96.