More than a dozen civilians from the Sacramento area are in Washington State to assist mudslide victims and first responders.
American Red Cross Capital Region deployed 14 local volunteers to help with basic needs and emotional support. The organization’s communications director, Jordan Scott, returned from a five-day deployment and described what he saw.
“Emotionally it’s overwhelming,” Scott said. “A lot of the times, what we see, is the loss of stuff. Stuff can be replaced. What you are seeing in this community is the massive loss of life. A large community has been almost erased from the map.”
So far, there have been 17 confirmed deaths, and more than 90 people unaccounted for. Rescuers on site paused for a brief moment at 10:37 AM on Saturday, exactly one week after the mudslide destroyed the town, for a moment of silence.
While civilian volunteers continued their assistance, a uniformed crew from Sacramento is preparing to deploy.
“They’re still in rescue mode, in hopes to find survivors,” Michael Daw, Battalion Chief of Sacramento Metro Fire said. “So if we are deployed, we would be assisting survivors and disentangling them from the debris that they may be in.”
Daw is part of a FEMA sponsored rescue team, made up of local firefighters from across the country. Sacramento region’s Task Force 7 is one of 28 on-call Urban Rescue crews. It has a 70-person roster of highly skilled individuals, including Hazmat, medics, logistics, rescue, K9, and communications specialists.
“In two hours time, we are ready to go,” Daw said. “All we have to do is, our members show up, check in, and we are on the road.”
If deployed, Task Force 7 will be one of the first out-of-state Urban Search and Rescue teams, because of Northern California’s proximity to Oso. They have previous disaster relief experience, including the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations at redcross.org