Hundreds of Red Cross Volunteers Helping Oso Residents

Washington Mudslide

Volunteers Tony Puglisi and Gary Anderson load up a Red Cross emergency vehicle to help move the shelter to a new location in Arlington, Washington.

Red Cross workers serving meals, delivering snacks to responders and providing health and mental health services.

Hundreds of volunteers from the American Red Cross of Western Washington and other regions of the state are spending days and nights in and around the mud-caked town of Oso in the aftermath of the ruinous landslide on March 22.

They are helping residents to cope with the loss of more than 40 community members by providing food to eat, a warm and comfortable place to connect with friends and neighbors and a listening ear.

- Red Cross shelters are open in Arlington and Darrington at the following locations:

  • Smokey Point Community Church, 17721 Smokey Point Blvd. in Arlington
  • Darrington Community Center, 570 Sauk Ave in Darrington
  • Meals are available at the shelters, as well as health and mental health services.
  • Darrington area residents can stay at the shelter in Arlington to help with their commuting issues
  • - The Red Cross is also staffing Joint Resource Centers in Darrington and Arlington in coordination with local non-profit organizations to assist families in finding resources during this difficult time. Red Cross caseworkers are meeting with affected families at these centers and at various places in the community to provide emotional support and help create individual recovery plans.

    - A crisis care line is running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be accessed by calling 1-800-584-3578. It is not just for those who lost loved ones, but for the entire community.

    - Washington State Emergency Operations web site has information on shelters, transportation and many other topics which may be helpful.

    - Free Community Transit bus passes are available in both Arlington and Darrington at the Red Cross shelters through Red Cross case workers

    RED CROSS REACH Since the March 22 tragedy, more than 300 trained Red Cross disaster workers have been stationed at or near the slide site, the majority of them from Washington State, reaching out to help their neighbors. They are serving meals at shelter gatherings, offering snacks and hot coffee to rescue workers, transporting supplies to shelter sites and providing health and mental health services.

    Two of these workers are Tony Puglisi and Gary Anderson, who report that they are glad to be able to help. This is a first national response for Piglisi, who says volunteering is a great way to give back to the community. “I am happy to be here helping out,” he said. “The organization of the Red Cross resources has been impressive. Everyone looks out for each other and I’ve made some new friends.”

    Both men hail from Kitsap County, Washington, just 60 miles south of the disaster that devastated homes and families. Trained in disaster relief procedures and to drive Red Cross emergency response vehicles, the team was instrumental in helping relocate the Arlington shelter from a local middle school to an area church so that students returning from spring break to find their classrooms and gymnasium back to normal.

    A DIFFICULT TIME It’s important for people to connect with and support each other. The Red Cross offers these steps people can take to support each other during this difficult time:

  • Take time to take care of yourself and your family. Reach out to others to offer and receive support.
  • Events like this can cause feelings of uncertainty and anxiety since no one knows for sure what will happen next. Remember that it's okay to feel nervous.
  • Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest.
  • Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration, anxiety or difficulty sleeping.
  • Parents should let children talk about their fears and then reassure them about their safety.
  • People should also be careful not to overexpose themselves to media reports about the tragedy.
  • To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.
  • FLOODING SAFETY There is still a concern flooding could occur in the region. Should flooding threaten your neighborhood, you can download the free Red Cross Flood App to receive flood and flash flood watches and warnings and visit the flood safety information on redcross.org.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO The best way to help is through a financial donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Right now, the Red Cross has the supplies and volunteers that it needs to respond but financial donations allow the Red Cross to pay for the full range of help this community needs.

    Donations to Red Cross Disaster Relief allowed the Red Cross to respond immediately to this landslide with mental health assistance, food and shelter and support for first responders and are being used to provide help right now.

    You can click, text or call to donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief to help people affected by disasters big and small.

  • Donations will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. This includes the Oso landslide and nearly 70,000 other disasters we handle every year around the country.
  • Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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