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July 22, 2014 at 9:45 AM

As many as 50 personal items recovered each day from Oso mudslide

The Daily Herald

OSO  (AP) — Hundreds of pieces of personal property have been recovered from the site of the March 22 mudslide near Oso.

Books. Photos. Rings.

Guns. Flags. Computers.

Cars. Cameras. Wills.

As many as 50 items are still being recovered each day as workers search and sift through debris, said Gary Haakenson, the Snohomish County manager overseeing the slide recovery efforts.

Officials have been working to clean and restore the items and return them to families in a careful and respectful way, Haakenson said.

Some of the recovered items belonged to the 43 people who were killed in the slide. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said today a body believed to be that of  Molly Kristine “Kris” Regelbrugge, the last unfound victim of the slide, has been located.

The items are stored in a reunification center at an undisclosed location.

Many of the recovered items were muddy but not seriously damaged, Haakenson said. The property is laid out on tables and shelving units. Families are given private time to look.

Local experts have helped, including those specially trained in finding owner information inside computers, or in restoring photos, Haakenson said.

“There’s just a whole lot of work that’s going on behind the scenes,” he said.

Searchers have kept a covered space set aside at the debris field where found property is taken and initially cleaned before being sent to the reunification center.

Each family who has lost loved ones or property has been invited to the center, Haakenson said.

“Some have chosen not to. It’s just too painful,” he said. “Some have said, ‘We’ll do it later.’”

Some have made several visits.

“It’s a very, very difficult process for families to go through, to walk in there and see some of the belongings of their loved ones,” Haakenson said.

Many items have been returned to their owners. Some folks don’t want the property back, Haakenson said. Other families have expressed interest in donating mementos to a memorial.

Auto insurance companies have been involved because of recovered vehicles.

There are still questions left to sort out, such as what happens to property that is not claimed.

Sensitive items, such as tax records, firearms and wills, are being kept secure by the county sheriff’s office.

Work also continues to restore private land that was damaged or otherwise affected by rescue and recovery efforts, particularly lots along Highway 530, Haakenson said.

Some 200,000 cubic yards of dirt and debris are still being sifted. In some areas, the mud was 25 feet deep.

Crews with heavy equipment are expected to be working 10-hour days in the slide area through September, primarily for searching and removing debris.

The damaged highway is open to two-way traffic, with “substantial completion” of permanent repairs anticipated before the rainy season begins in the fall.

Officials have repeatedly asked the public to be respectful while driving past the site, to stay in their cars, to not steal anything, and to not wander around in an area considered by many to be hallowed ground.


Comments | More in General news | Topics: mudslide, Oso, personal items

July 22, 2014 at 6:39 AM

Scientists to release finding in deadly Oso slide

The Associated Press A team of scientists examining the deadly March 22 landslide in Washington state is planning to release its report Tuesday. The geologists and geotechnical engineers spent four days collecting data at the site of the mudslide that killed 43 people and devastated a community of Oso about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. The team is…


Comments | More in General news | Topics: causes, conditions, geologists

July 22, 2014 at 6:10 AM

Thunderstorms forecast Wednesday in Washington

The Associated Press Forecasters say a stormy day Wednesday could bring heavy rain to Western Washington and thunderstorms to Eastern Washington where lightning could spark new wildfires and flash floods could sweep debris down freshly burned hills. The National Weather Service says an inch-and-a-half of rain could fall in Western Washington breaking records for July 23. The…


Comments | More in General news, Weather Beat | Topics: thunderstorms, Western Washington

July 21, 2014 at 7:49 AM

Man killed, woman injured in Kitsap County crash

SILVERDALE (AP) — A man was killed and a woman injured in a crash early Monday down a steep embankment in east Bremerton. Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue says firefighters were called about 3 a.m. and had to extricate the woman from the vehicle about 200 feed down a 45-degree-angle slope. She suffered serious injuries and was…


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Bremerton, embankment, fatal crash

July 21, 2014 at 6:43 AM

Monday Memo: First commute during I-90 repair … Kent shooting … Cooler

I-90 mess? Not so much: The I-90 bridge work that  brought the freeway down to just one lane between Bellevue and Mercer Island isn’t so bad this morning we’re told. Go0od news, eh? Despite I-90 closures, traffic is “free flowing” Kent police shoot man dead: We will have more later today More

Comments | More in Morning Memo | Topics: cool weather, I-90 bridge work, Kent police

July 21, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Custody fight starts car chase between parents

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A custody dispute sparked a high-speed chase between a mother and father in Oregon. Police say that a 21-year-old mother attempted to ram her children’s father off the road during the chase in Grants Pass on Saturday. But missed and ended up crashing into a power pole, causing a widespread outage. The…


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Grants Pass, high speed chase, Ore. custody battle

July 20, 2014 at 7:18 AM

Sunday Memo: Wildfires burning … Super Bowl repeat? … A viaduct park?

Wildfires continue to burn and consume: But slightly cooler temperatures, humidity and some rain are giving firefighters some hope of getting the upperhand in fighting the fires that have destroyed up to 100 homes. Here’s the story from overnight. We will be updating what’s happening throughout the day. Seahawks and the Super Bowl…


Comments | More in Morning Memo | Topics: Martin Selig, Seahawks, showers

July 19, 2014 at 5:56 AM

Man dies trying to save Washington home from fire

OKANOGAN  (AP) — The Okanogan County sheriff’s office says a man died of an apparent heart attack while fighting a wildfire near his home. The sheriff’s office says 67-year-old Rob Koczewski was stricken Saturday while he and his wife were hauling water and digging fire lines on their property, which was threatened by part of the…


Comments | More in General news | Topics: fighting fire, heart attack, home

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