When Red Cross volunteer Mar Tobiason received a call during training on the East Coast, she had no idea she would be heading to her hometown of Marysville, Wash. to provide disaster relief to people displaced by the tragic landslide in the neighboring city of Oso.
It wasn’t until Tobiason landed in Seattle for her connecting flight home to San Diego that she found out she wouldn’t be leaving. “They said ‘wait, hold it, we need you,’ said Tobiason. “My heart was there anyway as that’s where I grew up-- it’s my home town.” After retrieving her luggage from the plane, Tobiason started her journey 60 miles north to help however she could.
Even with the experience of multiple deployments, nothing could prepare Tobiason for this disaster. Growing up so close to the site of the landslide, Tobiason tried to keep her emotions inside until her job was done. She had friends and family in the area. It wasn’t until a close friend of hers walked into the Red Cross shelter that she was able to let go.
“I was going to look for my friend, and she just happened to walk in. We had the biggest hug ever,” said Tobiason. “My first words to her were ‘oh my goodness you’re ok’ and it made me smile the rest of the day.”
This was not the first landslide disaster that Tobiason has responded to in Washington. In 2006, Tobiason assisted in the relief efforts of another slide but it paled in comparison to the slide she was at now. “I was in disbelief from how large the slide was and how many people were affected,” said Tobiason.
This time around, Tobiason was one of 300 trained workers who were deployed to the Washington mudslide. She assisted in the Arlington and Darrington shelters, which had provided 140 overnight stays and 16,000 meals to those displaced (at the time of this story), while also traveling to the disaster area and providing support to the disaster volunteers on site.
There is no timeframe on how long the disaster relief effort will take but Tobiason knows the Red Cross will be there for the long-haul.
“”It’s going to be months and months, maybe even years but the Red Cross is going to be there and support them,” said Tobiason.
If you’re interested in donating to the disaster relief fund for the landslide disaster in Oso, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.