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Donations are rolling in Thursday to Senior Aerospace AMT in Arlington where Ed Russell is distributing supplies out to Red Cross and volunteers on at the scene of the mudslide. (Photo: Ed Russell)

Help locals keep volunteers supplied in Oso mudslide search effort

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Update Tuesday morning:

Ed Russell and his friends and co-workers have collected supplies for those working on the debris field.

Ed says the outpouring of support has been unbelievable and the search crews are extremely grateful. Over the weekend alone they filled two containers and an airplane hangar. They've run out of room, so Ed recommends donating to the Coastal Community Bank or the The Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation.

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As soon as the hillside came crashing down in Oso Saturday, locals went racing to the scene to search for survivors. Many haven't stopped searching since, and an effort is underway to help keep them supplied.

They've been using their own chain saws, bulldozers and other heavy equipment - and they're wearing them out.

"Some of those guys have been working up there since Saturday, and they haven't slept more than two hours. They're not waiting for daybreak. They're working all the time up there," says Ed Russell, who works at AMT, an aerospace company in Arlington.

Russell says the slide has been devastating for everyone at the company and in the close-knit community.

"A lot of guys that we know, they're just not here anymore. I don't think people realize the scope of this. It's a whole community. It's just gone. There's just nothing there."

Russell and his friends and co-workers have been doing all they can to collect supplies for those working on the mountain.

"I've been calling in all my favors with all these guys I've been doing business with, so I just got a whole bunch of chainsaw two-stroke oil and bar oil. I got cases of that and that's going to go up Thursday."

Since the call went out for help to the Ron and Don nation, Russell has been inundated with donations.

"I got a call last night at 10 o'clock from Phoenix, I've been getting calls from New Mexico, I've been getting calls from California. I mean people have been buying stuff on Amazon and sending it to us. I can't believe it," he says.

While Russell and his colleagues are coordinating with the Red Cross, the agency can't handle some of the supplies including the chainsaw oil, prompting them to take deliveries into their own hands.

Russell reports crews are burning through fuel as they operate their own bulldozers, trucks, chainsaws and other heavy equipment, but generous donors are helping fill the tanks.

"The guys on the hill are overwhelmed. We are definitely helping them out tremendously," he says.

"These guys are using their own stuff. We're just trying to supply them so they can keep going," says Ed. That's why people live here. It's because everybody helps everybody out when they need to."

Russell says there's no way to fathom just how grave the situation is at the slide site. And the need will continue for a long time to come.

"It is a lot worse than the news media has been portraying. Some of the stuff you can't hardly talk about. It's a horrific scene up there."

Russell believes many of the guys working non-stop since Saturday are in shock.

"They're digging out things that they shouldn't be seeing ... They're going to need somebody to talk to after this. You can tell."

Many thanks to all of you who have joined the effort! Thank you!

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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