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Nation/World

March 29, 2014

Slide survivor tells of 'wave' of mud hitting home

DARRINGTON, Wash. — The roar of the hillside collapsing was so loud that Robin Youngblood thought an airplane had crashed. But when she looked out the window of her mobile home, all she saw was a wall of mud racing across her beloved river valley toward her home.

“All I could say was, ‘Oh my God,’ and then it hit us,” Youngblood told The Associated Press. “Like a wave hit our mobile home and pushed it up. It tore the roof off of the house. When we stopped moving, we were full of mud everywhere. Two minutes was the whole thing.”

Youngblood is among the few survivors of the massive, deadly mudslide that destroyed a rural community northeast of Seattle last weekend. Five days after the destruction, Youngblood visited Darrington to see her cousin and follow up on the process of federal aid.

“It’s really hard to see all of this. It’s really hard to know that I can’t go home. Several times this week I’ve said, ‘I need to go home now.’ Then, I realize, there’s no home to go to,” she said Thursday.

In the early 1900s, Youngblood’s family helped establish the community of Darrington. They were Cherokee who had been forced to move to Oklahoma and Arkansas but decided to move to Washington. Youngblood’s great grandmother is buried a few blocks from the Darrington town center, she said.

Two years ago, Youngblood was living in Hawaii, but her children asked her to move home. She found a mobile home on 6 acres; three of those were wetland by the river. The other three were above the historic flood line, she said.

She had valley around her home with eagles, bear, fox, salmon and coyotes. Out of her home, she ran a church anchored on her Native American heritage.

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