OSO, Snohomish County — When the shock subsides and the time comes to rebuild, will anybody displaced by the mudslide be able to afford to move back to the Stillaguamish River Valley?
Even before Saturday’s disaster, the valley was hurting economically, local upholsterer Olan Flick told 60 people meeting in the Oso Community Chapel, built of timber.
“We need long term, some economic help. We need to make sure to have the people from here to do the jobs that need to be done. Hire somebody from here to do the excavation, instead of hiring from somewhere else,” Flick said.
Obviously, there could be millions of dollars of work to clear or fortify, even relocate buried parts of Highway 530. Houses might not be built again on Steelhead Drive, but perhaps in the Oso uplands or in Darrington.
“For people to afford upholstery, they’ve got to have a job,” Flick said.
Pastor Gary Ray said his cellphone has been ringing with calls from around the world, but he suspects his church, working with others nearby, will have to feed and comfort victims for years, perhaps. “We are not the great responders, but we are looking to be long-term care providers,” he said,
Some ideas from the flock include:
* Selling “I (heart) Oso” bumper stickers to raise relief money.
* Furnishing kitchens or rebuilding bathrooms for people who move back into homes, or need help.
* Passing on donation offers, which so far include free acupuncture, time away at Warm Beach camp, gas cards, and grocery money. A Lions Club member from Arlington said his group has money on hand it wants to give.
* To lend an ear. Rebecca Miller, who lives west of Oso, said her family lost their home in Grand Forks, N.D., to a 12-foot-high flood in 1995, so she can chat with victims, here, though she says the Oso slide is much worse.
* A website, osochapel.com, to launch later this week.
The point is not to control relief aid, but to work as a hub alongside others, the pastor said. Speaking of economic stimulus, a few miles down Highway 530 at Trafton General Store, big bottles of locally grown Oso Honey are on sale next to the crusty pizza rolls, deep into the night.