Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest have a love/hate relationship with rain.
We love that it keeps the air (relatively) clean, and it maintains our green appearance. We do like our pretty flowers and summer gardens.
On the other hand, we get pretty darn tired of it when it goes on day after day for a week or two, or three.
This past Saturday one of the worst (remember St. Helens?) natural disasters in state history occurred about 55 miles north of Seattle. It took mere seconds to wreak horrendous devastation.
The mountainside, becoming saturated and having a predominantly clay composition, broke off and slid down slope. The slide was 1 1/2 miles wide and slid about a mile forward. [think an area the size of the entire downtown of Seattle]
It virtually wiped out the town of OSO, WA.; taking out both sides of the North Fork Stillaguamish River, and covering SR-530 in up to 15 feet of mud. Nearly 1/2 the population of the town is still missing. Because of all the debris there is no way yet to know how high the death toll will rise. Suffice it to say that we are in shock. Responders have been working round the clock for days trying to locate the missing. Their stories and the stories of the survivors are heart wrenching.
As if more bad news was needed - they are still getting rain. The forecasters are saying that it "might" be drier by this Sunday.
There are 2 "good" things:
The voluntary aid to Oso, monetary and material, was immediate and generous; everyone wants to be involved. A couple of terrific recovery plans were actually suggested by young people; I'm talking under 16 here.
The other thing is that the river immediately started cutting a new channel through the slide, so the flood risk was much diminished. I heard last night that the river had reverted to an earlier riverbed, one that had been blocked by an earlier less extensive slide.
A geologists report from 1999 has been found, and pulled into the light, which suggests that "someone" knew that a catastrophic slide was a clear possibility in that area. This has raised many questions about why permits were given to build. Homeowners are saying that they were never told of the danger when buying properties. I wonder how thorough the appraisal reports were, or if anyone read them.
I cry every time I think about this, and yet I am not directly affected. So much loss. I hope that the families can rebuild their lives. They will have a difficult time. They are in my prayers, I hope that they will be in yours.
More on the Cascadia Fault
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