Communities Come Together After Washington Landslide

Mar 26, 2014
Originally published on March 25, 2014 3:44 pm

Communities in Washington are still reeling and trying to recover from a massive weekend mudslide that wiped out buildings and claimed many lives.

People in the community of Darrington, Washington are struggling to comprehend the scope of the disaster.

The people who lived in the homes destroyed by the mudflow are friends, relatives and neighbors.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Carolyn Adolph of KUOW reports.

We then turn to Janet Kabe, a Darrington resident, who has been volunteering at the community center there. One of her neighbors is still missing.


  • Carolyn Adolph, reporter at KUOW.
  • Janet Kabe, Darrington, Wash., resident
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From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.


I'm Robin Young. It's HERE AND NOW. And we start this hour in Washington state, where the death toll has climbed to 14, and dozens are still missing after that massive landslide this weekend. Rescue efforts continue, even though time is running out.

And people in nearby Darrington are also struggling to comprehend the scope of the disaster. From the HERE AND NOW contributor's network, KUOW's Carolyn Adolph explains.

CAROLYN ADOLPH, BYLINE: In Darrington, the grocery store is across the street from the fire station and a gathering place for people here. Suzette Russell and her husband David are among them.

SUZETTE RUSSELL: I'm a little numb.

ADOLPH: Suzette took a train back from a visit to Idaho when she heard about the slide. At first, she didn't even know her husband was all right.

RUSSELL: So I had lost it quite a bit the day before.

ADOLPH: Now she's waiting for word about five relatives and a friend.

RUSSELL: Well, I don't have my makeup on, and I just crawled out with what I have on today so I could come up to town to see if we could do anything or if we could find out any more, because my family, like, my brother, it's his daughter.

ADOLPH: Almost everyone here seems to know someone who is missing now. They're gathered outside this grocery store, where a message board shows them the slide area. There's a fresh-painted sign thanking emergency responders for their work. Taylor Lindeman and Lindsay Fabri are here. Taylor's been staying at Lindsay's house in town. Her home is near the slide. Both say they know their families are fine, but they're worried about one girl in particular.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah, both of her parents are missing.

And then, well my best friend's little brother, he was left alone in the house.

Yeah, we're all affected, as a whole, because this community is so close. We're just one big family. So when one person goes, part of our town's missing.

ADOLPH: Being able the gather at the store helps people share information. They're trying to learn more about what's happened. They're also comparing notes on what they knew about the slide risk in the area before the disaster. Mark and Roxanne Chance say they looked at houses on Steelhead Drive, which no longer exists. The two said they were put off by how near the houses were to the water.

ROXANNE CHANCE: And I just got a really bad feeling, because it just didn't look right to me. It looked like there could be too much of a threat.

MARK CHANCE: I just went by my gut feelings, like, no, this isn't a good place to live. So...

ADOLPH: But Mark Chance says people should do research and make their own choices. Lisa Tucker is walking her dog. She's lived in Darrington all her life. She says this disaster isn't going to change her view of risk.

LISA TUCKER: Who was to know that, you know, we were going to get blocked in? Who's to know that the landslide is going to happen, you know? Disasters can happen anywhere. And it just so happened to be closer to our town this time.

ADOLPH: For her, this place is home: the mountain shining down on this town, the river and the people.

TUCKER: It's a beautiful place to live, and you can't be afraid to continue to live just because a disaster happened. Everything will pick up.

ADOLPH: In Darrington, I'm Carolyn Adolph. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.