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Red Cross, Partners Work Together to Help Landslide Survivors

Red Cross Snohomish Landslide Survivors
On March 22, a rain-saturated hillside collapsed and buried a rural community near Oso, Wash., leaving devastation, grief and uncertainty in its wake.

The Red Cross continues supporting landslide survivors like Tim Ward, an Oso fire commissioner who lost his wife and home in the disaster. While he recovers from his injuries, the Red Cross has helped him replace household items and provided support that allows him to convalesce at his daughter’s home near a medical center that provides his physical therapy. “I’ve come a long way,” Tim said, while noting that his emotional wounds would take longer to heal. “What the Red Cross has done is tremendous.”

In addition, the Red Cross has taken an active role in a network of community leaders and partners—the Combined Long-Term Recovery Group—to offer coordinated and lasting support. We have provided Catholic Community Services (CCS) of Western Washington with a nearly $100,000 grant that will pay for trained caseworkers to help guide disaster

survivors through the recovery process; find permanent, secure housing; and identify other available support.

“It was impressive that the Red Cross pledged dollars within three days of deployment,” said Susan Vaughn, regional chief of operations for CCS. “That was a catalyst for ensuring we were fully prepared to serve the survivors.”

While meeting ongoing individual recovery needs, we are also working to strengthen the affected communities. In Darrington, the community center served as one of the three Red Cross operations hubs for the landslide response. After two months of intense use as the go-to location for meals, emotional comfort, information and assistance, the center had heavy maintenance and operating expenses.

Donations to the Red Cross funded operational costs and repairs that restored the Darrington Community Center to full functionality— serving as a vital site for emergency preparedness in a region facing many threats, including volcanic activity, earthquakes, landslides, severe floods and wildfires. In tandem with personal recovery support for residents impacted by the landslide, and in coordination with local leaders, the Red Cross is making ongoing commitments to bolster disaster preparedness and community rebuilding. This includes funds for expanding food bank supplies for the holidays, emergency preparedness training in schools, and distribution of fire alarms to low-income families.

We are collaborating with the community to decide what additional projects and activities make the most sense going forward. “We intend to get people back on their feet quickly and also to ensure that our communities here are prepared and resilient for future disasters,” said Chuck Morrison, executive director of the Red Cross in Northwest Washington.