It’s rescue effort – not a recovery. That’s the message from the Snohomish County Fire Chief who is hopeful those that are missing will still be found alive.
The death toll grew to eight on Sunday, and now officials say they have received 108 missing person reports.
Steelhead Drive, a roadway that falls along the Stillaguamish River and Highway 530 has virtually disappeared. “That neighborhood is not there anymore,” said Snohomish County Fire Chief Travis Hott.
Elijah Young was lucky – he’s a kid living with his family on Steelhead Drive. “It was this huge wave that crashed into our house, and went and crashed down. I just ran screaming ‘mudslide,’ at my house. I just thought, I’m going to die.”
For the family and friends of those still missing, the wait for news has been agonizing, while for others – getting news has been even worse.
Hott sounded emotional as he made the announcement Sunday, “I am saddened to inform you that we have discovered four additional fatalities.”
Among those still missing is a family from Steelhead Drive – a couple with two young children. Another missing is a 52-year-old man, who according to his daughter, was replacing a hot water heater in a home that has been completely buried by mud.
Dayn Brunner is waiting for word about his 36-year-old sister Summer Raffo who was driving to a friend’s house Saturday at exactly the time the slide barreled across SR 530. “She left at 10:30. The slide occurred at, everybody’s saying 10:47 a.m. – the time frame would have put her right the area. She never showed up at the friend’s house to shoe the horses. She has her cell phone.”
All Brunner can do is wait, and he was holding back tears as he said, “As far as I know it, deep down – is that she’s gone. She’s buried in there, so it’s going to be more of a recovery than a rescue.”
In all, 30 homes are believed to be destroyed by the mudslide that covered a 1-square-mile area of State Route 530 near the town of Oso. Sierra Sansaver told KIRO Radio’s Brandi Kruse she was one of the first on scene, and she knows people who are still missing.
“I can’t even describe how crazy it was, because honestly, it was a horrific site,” Sansaver said. “People screaming, crying, running into the rubbish of just all the houses.”
Hott said the list of those that are missing could grow if there were people in cars along SR 530 when the mudslide hit.
MyNorthwest.com’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.