SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

March 24, 2014

Officials: 18 missing in Washington mudslide

(Continued)

“There is a full-scale, 100-percent aggressive rescue going on right now,” said Inslee, who proclaimed a state of emergency.

The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. With the water rising rapidly behind the debris, authorities worried about severe downstream flooding and issued an evacuation notice Saturday.

Snohomish County officials said yesterday that residents could return home during daylight hours, but that they’ll likely re-issue the evacuation order for last night.

John Pennington, director of Snohomish County Emergency Management Department, said there were concerns that the water could break downstream, as well as back up and flood areas upstream.

Two people were killed at the scene, and one of the people who had been rescued died at a hospital.

Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County sheriff’s office, said yesterday a total of eight people were injured.

A 6-month-old boy and an 81-year-old man remained in critical condition yesterday morning at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said two men, ages 37 and 58, were in serious condition, while a 25-year-old woman was upgraded to satisfactory condition.

Bruce Blacker, who lives just west of the slide, doesn’t know the whereabouts of six neighbors.

“It’s a very close knit community,” Blacker said as he waited at an Arlington roadblock before troopers let him through. There were almost 20 homes in the neighborhood that was destroyed, he said.

“I’m hoping for the best,” Blacker said.

The American Red Cross set up at the hospital, and evacuation shelters were created at Post Middle School in Arlington and the Darrington Community Center.

Search-and-rescue help came from around the region, including the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers. More than 100 were at the scene.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through yesterday afternoon.

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