World Vision sends help after deadly Washington landslide

After a devastating landslide on March 22, World Vision is partnering with a local church in Oso, Washington, to provide relief to the community.

By John Iwasaki, World Vision U.S.
Published April 7, 2014 at 02:00pm PDT

After a massive landslide buried a neighborhood in Oso, Washington, authorities report a death toll of 33 people. Twelve are reported missing.

‘People come together in tough times’

The March 22 slide buried everything in its path with up to 70 feet of mud, including part of the Stillaguamish River and a mile-long stretch of Highway 530. Oso is about 60 miles north of Seattle.

“I do know people who have lost everything,” says Jolane Stroh, whose family — and horses, dogs, and cats — were evacuated but have since returned home. “People come together in times like this.”

As families mourn the tragedy and first responders continue searching through the vast wreckage, Pastor Gary Ray of Oso Community Chapel is leading efforts to help them through.

Helping a local church respond

The church is partnering with World Vision to provide 125 clean-up kits, 156 personal hygiene kits, and 300 family food kits to survivors.

Ever since he came to the church four years ago, Gary says his “big desire is to do more than the Sunday morning service.”

This church community of about 80 has been hit hard.

“Over 90 percent know somebody who really suffered,” either in lives lost or property damaged, Gary said, sitting in his church after he and volunteers unloaded World Vision’s supply truck March 25.

In its heyday, Oso was a logging town. But now, “economically, this region is really in decline,” Ray says, with unemployment double the national average. “Being in a disaster area really hits hard.”

The mudslide swept over Washington State Highway 530, cutting off direct access to the jobs in Arlington and Everett as well as Interstate 5 for those living to the east of the disaster.

Meeting immediate and long-term needs

Oso Community Chapel will “serve as a hub of resources for the area as families start to put their lives back together,” says Reed Slattery, manager of World Vision’s field site south of Oso. “We will walk with Pastor Ray through this process and help him to meet the needs as they arise.”

The focus will be to provide basic supplies for now, Slattery says. Down the road, World Vision plans to assist survivors in the area with building materials as they rebuild their lives and find new places to live.

“The community is still in shock,” Ray says. “There is great uncertainty about the stability of the slide, the river conditions, and the future for [Washington] State Route 530. But the community is holding together — I’ve seen neighbor help neighbor and some optimism even in the eyes of [the] hurting.”

Responding to U.S. disasters

World Vision’s domestic disaster response program prepares for disasters, develops emergency networks, trains communities to respond, solicits donated essential items, and supports a network of churches and strategic partners.

Between October 2012 and September 2013, World Vision provided relief to nearly 80,000 people in the aftermath of six U.S. disasters, including Superstorm Sandy in New York, and the deadly tornadoes near Oklahoma City.

How you can help

Pray for children and families impacted by this disaster, especially those who have lost loved ones. Pray for local churches and community groups working to assist affected families.

Make a one-time donation to our U.S. Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us respond quickly and effectively to life-threatening emergencies right here in the United States, such as the recent deadly landslide in Washington state.

Highlights

  • A massive landslide buried a neighborhood in the town of Oso, Washington. More than 30 deaths are reported.
  • Oso Community Chapel is partnering with World Vision to provide 125 clean-up kits, 156 personal hygiene kits, and 300 family food kits to survivors.
  • World Vision also plans to assist survivors in the area with building materials as they rebuild their lives and find new places to live.

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