ARLINGTON, Wash. -- A week after a mudslide ripped through the town and the highway that connects Arlington and nearby Darrington, the communities plan to mark the anniversary with a moment of silence.
Gov. Jay Inslee extended the observance statewide, with his office asking residents “to join him in this moment of silence as a show of respect for those who have died and a gesture of comfort for those who grieve.”
The death toll from the mudslide in Oso stands at 17, with another victim recovered Friday and 90 more people still missing.
“I know that every Washingtonian holds in their heart the people of the Stillaguamish Valley and we all wish we could ease their pain,” the governor said.
The Stillaguamish River that flows through the valley swelled after it was rerouted by the mudslide. Rain drenched the area Friday, and more was expected Saturday. Forecasters have issued flood watches and warnings.
That won’t prevent search and rescue teams from combing the wreckage for signs of life, officials said.
The moment of silence will be a time for locals to mourn victims, but also to stand in solidarity with survivors and first responders still searching the muddy plateau the mudslide carved into the Oso Valley.
Gary Haakenson, Snohomish County’s executive director, said at a briefing Friday that conditions at the scene had deteriorated. There was some instability or “sloughing” at the site Friday, and some searchers were moved, but work continued.
“It’s a very, very slow process. It was miserable to begin with ... and it’s rained heavily the last few days. It’s made the quicksand even worse. I cannot possibly tell you how long this will last or when, or if, they will find more bodies. We hope that we do. But now, there’s no telling,” Haakenson said.
Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said she has been calling the spouses of first responders, and “our crews are weary.”
Despite their fatigue and the emotional toll, first responders on the ground Friday said they were committed to continuing the search, side by side with relatives of the missing and dead.
“There are people down here digging for their loved ones, " said Steve Mason, a Snohomish County fire battalion chief as he surveyed the scene Friday. “Morale is high.”