Tribal jam session raises over $3400 for Oso mudslide victims

 

Natosha Gobin, left, Tribal jam session creator and organizer, welcomes attendees to the event which raised $3,486 to aid victims and rescue crews of the Oso mudslide. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Natosha Gobin, left, Tribal jam session creator and organizer, welcomes attendees to the event which raised $3,486 to aid victims and rescue crews of the Oso mudslide.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP, WA – “Two weeks ago, I think most of us, like 9/11, will remember exactly the moment where we were when we found out there was a slide in Oso,” said Travis Hots, Fire Chief for the Snohomish County Fire District 21, to attendees at the Tulalip Jam Session Oso Fundraiser on Friday, April 4, that raised over $3,400 for the victims and rescue crews of the Oso Mudslide.

“At first we just thought it was just another slide like the one that occurred in Mukilteo on Camano Island. We didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the disaster at first,” Hots went onto say.

Travis Hots, Snohomish County Fire District 21 Fire Chief is wrapped in a Pendleton blanket ,signifying warm and protection, during the Tulalip Oso Jam Session Fundraiser held on April 4, 2014. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Travis Hots, Snohomish County Fire District 21 Fire Chief is wrapped in a Pendleton blanket ,signifying warm and protection, during the Tulalip Oso Jam Session Fundraiser held on April 4, 2014.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

On March 22, 2014, a portion of an unstable hill collapsed, sending mud and debris across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, destroying the Steelhead Haven neighborhood and covering an area of 1 square mile including a section of Highway 530, cutting off the town of Darrington. As a result of the mudslide, 33 people were confirmed dead with 12 missing or unaccounted for, as of April 7. The mudslide is considered the deadliest single landslide event in U.S. history.

Hundreds of medical aid, search-and-rescue responders and volunteers sprang into action to help with rescue efforts. This included responders from the Tulalip community, such as a Tulalip tribal member spouse with the Snohomish County Swift Water Rescue, and responders from Tulalip Bay Fire Station.

To help ease the burden of rescue relief expenses, the Tulalip community organized the jam session to raise money.

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Tribal jam sessions are gatherings born out of the Coast Salish Canoe Journeys, where coastal tribes come together to share songs with one another. A charity jam session, like the one held to raise money for the victims and rescue workers of the Oso mudslide, incorporate traditional potlatching values, which include giving to those in need, praying together and sharing as a community.

The event, attended by nearly 200 people, includeding surrounding Coast Salish tribes, raised $3,486 to be donated to four organizations. The Snohomish County Swift Water Rescue will receive $870. Another $870 will be donated to Snohomish County Fire District 22, one of the stations that Fire Chief Travis Hots is stationed at to lead rescue efforts.  Cascade Valley Hospital Victims Fund will receive $870 and $870 will be donated to animal rescue and shelters.

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“The Oso mudslide is a tragedy that is not only close to our home, but we had tribal members grow up in the area, some still have homes close to the site of the mudslide,” said Natosha Gobin, event creator and organizer. Since it is a custom of our people to stand up for our warriors and protect them for their work, we invited Travis to attend our fundraiser, so we could wrap him with a Pendleton for protection and thank him for his work.”

The event, comprised of 10 core organizers and 25 volunteers, raised donations through concession stands selling food, water, and raffle tickets. Local Tulalip artists Jonny Dill and Sam Davis donated original art, along Essential Earth Organic Salon and Tulalip Resort Casino, who donated product packages for the raffle.

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“We decided to go with a suggested donation at the door, concession stand, bake sale and raffle. Since this event was a community effort, we asked for donations of paper goods for the food and drinks. Those who stepped up to cook, donated items to cook spaghetti, hamburger soup, Frybread and a variety of desserts. There was a sense of unity, love and healing in the building that night. I felt truly blessed to have so many great team members who helped make an idea turn into a successful event for our neighbors in the Oso area,” said Gobin.

“It was no surprise to see that the Tulalip Tribes were the first entities to make a large contribution and for that I am very grateful,” said Hots before the jam session. “I want to express that gratitude on behalf of the fire fighters because those dollars are going to good use, thank you. I would also like to thank each of you for inviting myself, my wife and kids, and for accepting us into your community tonight, it is truly an honor and I say thank you.”

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

 

 

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

 

 

 

 

 

Washington mudslide yields more bodies, but not all may be found

 

By Jonathan Kaminsky, Reuters

DARRINGTON, Washington (Reuters) – Search teams picked through mud-caked debris for a fifth day on Wednesday looking for scores of people still missing in a deadly Washington state landslide, as officials reported finding more bodies while acknowledging that some victims’ remains may never be recovered.

The known death toll stood at 24, with as many as 176 people still unaccounted for near the rural town of Oso, where a rain-soaked hillside collapsed on Saturday and cascaded over a river and a road, engulfing dozens of homes on the opposite bank.

The latest tally did not include an unspecified number of bodies that state police spokesman Bob Calkins said had been found on Wednesday. He declined to give further details.

Earlier in the day, local emergency management officials sought to fend off criticism of property development that was permitted just across the river from the caved-in slope after previous landslides in the area.

As hope faded that any survivors might be plucked from the muck and debris that blanketed an area covering about one square mile (2.6 square km), residents of the stricken community and nearby towns braced for an expected rise in the casualty count.

“My son’s best friend is out there, missing,” said John Pugh, 47, a National Guardsman who lives in the neighboring village of Darrington. “My daughter’s maid of honor’s parents are missing. It’s raw. And it will be for a long time.”

Asked whether he expected the death toll to rise significantly, Governor Jay Inslee told CNN: “Yes, I don’t think anyone can reach any other conclusion.

“It’s been very sad that we have not been able to find anyone living now for probably 36 or 48 hours,” he said. “The most discouraging thing is we were hopeful that we would find folks who might be protected by a car or a structure, but the force of this landslide just defies imagination.”

About 200 search personnel, many wearing rain gear and hard hats, painstakingly combed through the disaster zone under cloudy skies on Wednesday, taking advantage of a break from Tuesday’s rain showers to hasten their search for more victims.

Snohomish County Battalion Fire Chief Steve Mason, directing part of the operation, said teams were making slow but steady progress in locating additional remains.

“There are finds going on continually. They are finding people now,” he told reporters visiting the search site. “People are under logs, mixed in. It’s a slow process.”

But Jan McClelland, a volunteer firefighter from Darrington who was among the first to arrive at the scene and has spent long days digging through the muck since then, conceded it was possible some bodies may end up forever entombed at the site.

“I’m fearful we won’t find everyone,” she said. “That’s the reality of it.”

NO HUMAN HEAT SOURCES DETECTED

Bill Quistorf, the chief pilot for the county sheriff’s office, recounted that helicopter crews conducting low-altitude scans of the disaster zone with infrared equipment found no human heat sources in the hours after the slide.

“We located one dog in the bushes, and that was it,” he said, also acknowledging that some remains may never be recovered.

At the same time, authorities sought to whittle down their list of unaccounted-for individuals, with missing-persons detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office working to resolve likely redundancies on a roster of people whose fate remained unknown.

County officials also started to address criticism for allowing new home construction on parts of the disaster site after a 2006 landslide in the same vicinity, which followed numerous reports detailing the risks of slides dating back to the 1950s.

A 1999 study by geologist Daniel Miller for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had warned of the potential for a “large catastrophic failure” in the area, about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

“There’s definitely a blame-game going on,” Miller told Reuters. “I’ve always thought it’s inappropriate to allow development in flood plains, in areas at risk of landslides, in part because of the danger to human life and also in part because when something happens, even if no one is hurt, public agencies end up coming in to make repairs,” he said.

The county’s emergency management director, John Pennington, told reporters local authorities had spent millions of dollars on work to reduce landslide risks in the area after the 2006 event.

He suggested that while officials and residents were aware of vulnerability to unstable hill slopes, Saturday’s tragedy came out of the blue.

“We really did a great job of mitigating the potential for smaller slides to come in and impact the community,” Pennington said. “So from 2006 to this point, the community did feel safe; they fully understood the risks.”

But he also said: “People knew that this is a landslide-prone area. Sometimes big events just happen. Sometimes large events that nobody sees happen. And this event happened, and I want to find out why. I don’t have those answers right now.”

Search and rescue operations tapered off overnight but ramped up to full strength again at first light on Wednesday. Searchers used dogs to pinpoint possible locations of victims, as well as electronic equipment such as listening devices and cameras capable of probing voids in the debris.

“We’re not backing off. We’re still going at this with all eight cylinders to get everyone out there who is unaccounted for,” local fire chief Travis Hots said.

The presumed tally of dead rose on Tuesday night from 14 to 24 when county officials reported that search crews laboring in a steady drizzle had recovered two more bodies from the disaster zone and located the remains of eight additional victims.

Eight people were injured but survived the slide, including a 22-week-old baby rescued with his mother and listed in critical condition but improving. The mother and three other survivors also remained hospitalized.

The slide already ranks as one of the worst in the United States. In 1969, 150 people were killed in landslides and floods in Virginia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

(Additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle, Bryan Cohen in Arlington, Washington, and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cythia Johnston, Dan Grebler and Gunna Dickson)