Three months after a deadly landslide wiped out the community of Oso, Wash., officials have selected a company to deal further with wreckage that remains.
The Snohomish County Council agreed Wednesday night to award a $6.4-million contract to IMCO General Construction to handle "sorting, screening, redistributing, grading and removal of slide debris."
The March 22 slide killed 43 people. The youngest was a 4-month-old girl, the oldest a 91-year-old woman. The body of one victim, Molly Kristine "Kris" Regelbrugge, 44, has not yet been found. Active search operations were called off in late April.
After the slide, search-and-rescue teams went through debris. IMCO will handle any matter that the teams put on private property, largely near roadsides, Gary Haakenson, a county executive director, told the Los Angeles Times.
"We want people to know that we're not just going in and shoveling stuff off," he said. Sifting has "already been done once, and we're being cautious as we do it again."
"We are using the medical examiner protocols that were set up during the search-and-rescue mission," Haakenson emphasized, adding that every scoop of dirt would be monitored.
Items that former residents might want to reclaim will be taken to a family reunification center and cleaned up, Haakenson said. Logs and other plant matter are to be ground into chips and left on site.
A bid award recommendation from the county said the work was expected to begin June 25 and be done by Sept. 22. Federal Emergency Management Agency funds can cover 87% of the cost, it said.
The slide also left a stretch of State Route 530 — a key highway between the small cities of Arlington and Darrington — unusable. About 18 million gallons of mud were bulldozed aside in the weeks that followed, and one of the highway's two lanes reopened May 31. The other lane is expected to reopen in October, Haakenson said.