On Saturday, March 23, the hillside across from the small Washington town of Oso gave way to nature’s unstoppable demands. A startling 15 million cubic yards of clay, mud, trees and dirt let loose, crossing the Stillaguamish River and destroying any home, car or building that stood in its path, eventually covering state Highway 530.
While scientists have considered the chunk of land to be a landslide risk for decades, a winter defined primarily by heavy rainfall likely eroded the earth, paving the way for the massive Washington mudslide. The Oso community, which lies about an hour away from northeast Seattle, is just the latest in a string of bizarre floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The aftermath of the Washington mudslide is both grim and tedious. Members of the community, volunteers and rescue workers have spent the past few days navigating the changed landscape, looking for any signs of life. While numbers will likely climb, so far 25 people have been confirmed dead, and another 90 are still missing. Onlookers say that the mile-wide Washington mudslide decimated the land beyond recognition. Governor Jay Inslee told reporters that “the cars that have been found have just literally been twisted into corkscrews and torn in half.”