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Darrington area woman shares insight, perspective on Oso mudslide response effort


Story updated at 8:30am PST to include copyrighted photographs taken Friday morning showing locally-owned heavy equipment at the Oso mudslide.  People featured in these photos are Bob DeYoung of Darrington who’s seen giving a “thumbs-up” in appreciation of the $100 Shell gas card he’s holding donated by reader @SnoCo_Scanner  (Daron Johnson). Jaimie Mason is also featured wearing wearing hard hat. All photographs in this series were taken by Mason for

(Darrington, WA) In a 13-minute video recorded on Thursday, Jaimie Mason begins by expressing her gratitude for the $360 in Shell gas cards donated by readers of this blog.

She goes on to say so much more.

Mason lives west of Darrington, closer to the Oso mudslide. readers donated $360 in Shell gas cards for fueling privately owned machinery at the Oso mudslide. The fundraiser was announced Thursday morning.  The gas cards were donated within 3 1/2 hours that same day, then delivered to Darrington early that evening. readers donated $360 in Shell gas cards for fueling privately owned machinery at the Oso mudslide. The fundraiser was announced Thursday morning. The gas cards were donated within 3 1/2 hours that same day, then delivered to Darrington early that evening.

First, about those gas cards.

Mason says many local residents assisting in the rescue and recovery effort are using their own machinery, and are also paying for the fuel to run it.

Thus, her appeal for the gas cards and this bulletin here on Thursday.

Mason goes on to share that she—like so many of her neighbors—are now spending days at the mudslide sifting through the debris, hoping to find missing neighbors and loved ones.

There are several powerful moments in this interview.

And while I’ve not confirmed Mason’s claims, she does strike me as quite sincere.

Mason is real people.

Real Darrington.

It shouldn’t be surprising to hear more words like these in the weeks and months to come.


Additional Reading:  Volunteers Recover Bodies Of Friends And Neighbors in Washington Landslide / (includes photo & interview featuring Bob DeYoung)

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VIDEO: Interview with WSP Chief John Batiste


(Oso, WA)  This is unedited video of Washington State Police Chief John Batiste speaking with media members regarding the Oso mudslide.

The interview was recorded on March 26.

The location is the roadblock at SR 530 and Oso Loop Road.

Here are some time codes for topics that are addressed:

2:03  Trooper Oliphant (one of the first responders), helped rescue young child

3:59 Batiste’s initial reaction to the mudslide.  His flight with Governor over mudslide

4:36 Reminds Batiste of Mount St. Helens (which he responded to as a young Trooper)

5:12 Discussing this mudslide with spouse

6:02 First responders are working hard, taking risks, still hoping to make rescues.

6:37  Batiste is asked about clearing the road.  Debris field.

7:00  Says Department of Transportation is making plans for relocating debris

7:25  What’s next regarding the highway?  Alternative route(s)?

7:50 “A huge undertaking” (regarding removing debris)



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One on one with the Governor


Photos and Videos 

Update:  About 7 hours after this post was published, the Associated Press published an insightful story online regarding the dramatic changes in the numbers of people reported missing in the mudslide near Oso. A link to that story is provided here for additional reading: 18, 108, 176? How many missing from landslide? / Associated Press, March 25, 11am PST

(Oso, WA) Up to 176 people reported missing.

A Federal Emergency Declaration signed by President Barack Obama.

Yes, the unimaginable scope of the mudslide near Oso continued to sink-in on Monday.

And as it did so, Washington Governor Jay Inslee returned to survey the area and meet with locals.

Shortly after 4:30pm, Inslee arrived at the SR 530 roadblock located about three miles west of the mudslide.

Inslee walked directly towards Washington State Patrol Troopers positioned at the roadblock, then shook their hands.

He gestured a “thumbs up.”

And he paused to place a pin on one young Trooper’s uniform. approached the governor and asked if  he would answer a quick question.

He obliged (then answered more than one).

The governor was first asked for his impressions on what he was seeing on Monday.

“Well, we’ve got a full-blown search and rescue effort that’s ongoing right now,” Inslee began.  “We’re getting some additional federal assets in, an incident management team. A National Guard search and extraction team will be coming in. So, we’re bringing in some additional troops to replace some of the exhausted people here. And it’s a full-blown rescue effort.  The families of Washington deserve that. Our hearts are with them. We want to get all the resources we can.  And we are.”

Monday had begun with news that the official number of missing people had climbed from 18 to 108 (later that evening, the number of people reported missing increased to 176).

Monday afternoon, asked Inslee, “Why the delay? How do we go from 18 to 108?”

“People in the search and rescue effort really need to answer those questions.  I think that they wanted to be conservative to try to match all of the information coming in from so many ways, but we really want to focus on the rescue right now,” Inslee said.

The interview with the governor was streamed live using an iPhone. The video appears below (please see video Live Stream #10: Oso mudslide. The interview begins at 1:54. Also, the moment Inslee placed a pin on the Trooper can be viewed at 1:38). 

In the final live report (please see Live Stream #11: Oso mudslide), reported that cadaver dogs are being utilized at the mudslide. That information did not come from official channels.

At a news conference early Monday evening in Arlington, asked for confirmation that cadaver dogs were at the mudslide.

Fire Chief Travis Hots (Snohomish County Districts 21 & 22) replied that “search dogs” are at the scene.

Monday’s live reports from the roadblock also addressed the increasing media presence (to include mentions of international coverage), activities observed in that area, and the weather.

The pictures in this story include images of KING-TV’s (NBC) weatherman Jeff Renner standing-by moments before his live report regarding a forecast for significant rainfall in the days ahead.

The photos of the helicopters passing overhead were taken at the roadblock.

And the images of the outdoor news conference were taken early Monday evening in Arlington.



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108 people missing after Oso mudslide


Darrington, WA at sunset on Saturday, March 23rd.
Darrington, WA at sunset on Saturday, March 23rd.

While this morning’s announcement that 108 people are missing after the Oso mudslide will surprise many people, that’s likely not the case for some locals who live in that area.

From what I’ve been told, many have known the numbers are higher.

In my visit to Darrington Sunday evening, a local told me that there was some mounting frustration in town regarding the official numbers of missing and deceased that were being reported in the news.

There are stories going around (which I’ve not confirmed) that some neighbors who live here have even helped locate bodies in the mud (see 2:44 in video Live Stream #8, below).

The purpose of this post is simply aimed at providing additional insight, understanding and context. You can decide whether it does any of that.

This commentary is absolutely not meant to instigate any finger pointing.

During my 20 years spent covering stories as a television news reporter, I came to understand that it’s quite common for people directly impacted by a tragedy to become frustrated as they are so often wanting much more information related to the event.

We now live in an ever-evolving time, though, related to the technology and social media at our fingertips, and they’re impacts on major news events.

Increasingly, every day folks on the front lines are positioned with firm, current, relevant information.  And sharing that information with the world only takes a click or two.

That’s the reality that presses-up against still oft-used traditional methods exercised by governments and mainstream media for gathering and disseminating information.

I’ve no doubt everyone’s goal is to provide the most solid, responsible information.

The inherent challenges of doing so with a major catastrophe—surrounded by the prevalence of smartphones and social media—would seem to make that goal challenging in ways that we’ve yet come to fully understand.


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(PHOTOS & VIDEOS) Oso mudslide: “Everything went dark”

UNCUT: Interview with mudslide witness Paulo Falcao / HD (1080p)

NEW PHOTOS OF MUDSLIDE has obtained new pictures of the devastation caused by Saturday’s catastrophic mudslide near Oso.

(Oso, WA) A natural disaster came crashing down today on this usually quiet area that’s partially surrounded by fast-rising hillsides and snow capped peaks .

A vast mudslide blasted through homes, crossed SR 530 and has blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.

At least three people have died.

The concerns now include the threat of flooding.

As The Herald (Everett) reports this evening:

A large wall of water is expected to rip downstream along the Stillaguamish River between Oso and Stanwood on Saturday evening or early Sunday.

Snohomish County emergency officials tonight are strongly encouraging anyone who lives in the flood plain to move to higher ground until further notice. Crews hope to assess the situation again in the daylight. Plans are in place to possibly stop traffic on the I-5 bridge over the Stilly in Arlington if needed.

There is the “potential for a catastrophic flood event,” county spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said. interviewed local residents while reporting live near the scene.

Paulo Falcao said he was driving towards Darrington to pick up his children when everything went dark immediately in front of his Jeep and the two vehicles just in front of him.

Falcao said the slide raced across the  road, and that the moving debris included a house.

Once out of his vehicle, Flaco heard cries for help from a woman and a small child. He estimates the child was one year-old or younger.

Falcao said the woman and child eventually made it out.


The following photos were taken by Stephen Horner


Live Stream #1


Live Stream #2 (includes interviews with local residents Tim Alskog and Garrett Simmons)


Live Stream #3 (includes interview with Paulo Flaco. I mistakenly refer to him as “Pablo” Flaco here as I’d misheard his name. My apologies.)


Live Stream #4:
For the record: We did *not* know that a mandatory evacuation had just been issued prior to visiting the river on the way home. Still, I’m fully aware that we assumed some risk in visiting the river. Never do something like this in these circumstances. I do hope that this footage proves helpful in understanding the mudslide’s effect on the north fork of the Stillaguamish River.


Live Stream #5:
In this video, you may wish to skip ahead of the simple walking (and a lot of sniffing from my increasingly runny nose…sorry about that) to 2:49.  At 2:49, narration begins as the camera shows a view of the river in both directions.


Live Stream #6
This is the final report in this series for March 22nd.



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2-year-old girl airlifted to Harborview after rollover crash on SR 530

Updated: March 15, 9:50 pm PST

(Arlington, WA)  A 2 year-old girl was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after a single vehicle, rollover crash on SR 530 late this morning.

Trooper Mark Francis of the Washington State Patrol says the child’s injuries are not life threatening.

The Herald (Everett) reports that a 27 year-old Marysville man was driving the Honda Civic, and that he was treated for injuries at Cascade Valley Hospital, then released.

Trooper Francis also tweeted, “Alcohol/drugs not a factor.”

The highway was temporarily closed around noon when the Airlift helicopter landed to receive the patient.

The crash happened near milepost 43 and Swede Heaven Rd, an area on the outskirts of Arlington.

The location is about six miles west of Darrington.

Jaimie Mason lives on Swede Heaven Road and provided the photos that appear in this story.