OSO, Wash. -- It’s been a week since a landslide tragically swept through a rural Washington community, and the sheer size of the slide area is still a lot for rescue workers to grapple with.
Gary Hawkinson, a coordinator for the rescue effort, said they are waiting on the medical examiner’s office to update the number of dead, which currently stands at 17.
When rescue workers find a victim while working through the mud and debris they mark the spot for a helicopter to come in and complete the pickup.
“They will extract the victim to a holding area and place them in a truck from the National Guard. They're transported to medical offices in Everett. An autopsy is performed and the process of identification takes place, if possible,” said Hawkinson.
After that process officials will add that victim to the official death toll.
There are around 90 people still missing and unaccounted for. The number of victims is expected to increase.
A Springfield man with ties to the Oso, Washington community is hoping to help the victims of the deadly mudslide.
Eric Sprague owns property in Oso and said his home was completely destroyed in the slide. Sprague said he remembers hearing the news of his mother being buried in the mud before being rescued.
“News from my mom, basically almost dying, and the whole mountainside coming undone. The house coming off its foundation and the mud - with my mom in it - being tossed and turned and thrown around,” said Sprague.
The Sprague's are collecting monetary donations, along with anything else - from blankets to non-perishable food - to bring up to the community of Oso. They are holding the fundraiser at the WalMart on Olympic Street Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.