MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Remembering the Oso landslide, eight years later

Mar 22, 2022, 7:17 AM

Oso slide, memorial...

The wooden arch with the date of the Oso landslide is the newest piece of the memorial, located at each side of the entrance to the slide site. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

(Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

Families, friends, first responders, county officials and others will gather Tuesday, March 22, in the small town of Oso, Washington, nestled between the towns of Arlington and Darrington to remember the 43 lives lost eight years ago today when the deadliest landslide in U.S. history wiped out the Steelhead Haven neighborhood along the Stillaguamish River.

Oso families secure final $4.8 million for permanent memorial

It was a Saturday morning at 10:37 a.m. when a massive wall of mud, trees, and other debris crashed into the tight-knit neighborhood, wiping it off the map.

Among those killed were six members of the Pzonka family, including two young boys; a workman who was installing a satellite dish on one of the homes’ roofs; a young woman – a sister – on her way to Arlington from Darrington to shoe a horse who was still clutching her steering wheel when crews uncovered her mud-packed car several days after the slide hit; and a wife who was just out of reach of her husband when the slide tore through their home.

The names of all 43 people killed will be read aloud at the 8th Year Remembrance Ceremony at the Steelhead Haven site, where one can’t even tell a neighborhood used to stand.

Families, survivors, and first responders will also speak at the service.

At exactly 10:37 a.m. there will be a 60 second moment of silence.

The remembrance is open to the public. Later this evening, the families, survivors, and first responders — who have now become one family of their own — will hold their own private get together to release lanterns for each of those lost in the 2014 landslide.

This year’s service comes on the heels of news that Snohomish County is putting up the remaining $4.8 million needed for a permanent memorial at the site. The families have been working for years to get a memorial built. They had managed to raise about $ 1 million, but were struggling to raise the rest.

With that funding announcement from the county, ground is expected to break on the memorial in the months ahead, with construction completed just in time for the 10th year remembrance in 2024.

The memorial will be a walkable path through the geological history of what happened, the stories of the 43 people killed, and of the survivors and first responders, along with an area to honor the tremendous outpouring of support from the community who gave anything they could to help, and the volunteers who sifted through toxic muck for months until the last of the remains were identified.

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Remembering the Oso landslide, eight years later