Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oso Mudslide

I can't publish another post here without acknowledging the tragedy that happened only 50 minutes away from us. On Saturday, the mudslide in Oso, WA killed many people. Our community is in a state of shock and grief, and so are we as a family.
I don't know what to write about it. I feel numb and heart broken. People we love dearly had to evacuate their houses in case of a flash flood. People we know got killed. We drive on Highway 530 often, right past the mountain that collapsed onto all these cars and houses.
We have several friends who are first responders and arrived at the scene minutes after it happened, pulling survivors out of the massive devastation. Everyone is incredibly sad, and many break out into tears whenever they think about it. The people who are trying to rescue and recover people are facing hellish conditions.
Since we don't have television, I have been obsessively monitoring the internet (or the radio when we are in the car), to find any new information. Our neighbors have TV, so I go up there in the evenings to listen to the press conferences and news.
Everyone desperately wants to help, including us. One night, there was word that they were looking for local volunteers with chainsaws and equipment to come help dig through the mess, and Steve was ready to go. But then they got swamped with responses, and everyone was told not to come.

Today we went to the town of Darrington to deliver food and care packets to residents and volunteers. Darrington is close to Oso and got cut off because of the mud slide. We regularly go to this town for its library and lively contra dances. Today, it was a media circus. Several TV stations are set up in front of the local grocery store and community center.
We were struck with the strong community spirit there. As we parked our car by the community center, we immediately ran into an acquaintance who directed us to the kitchen. We delivered the food cooked by our neighbor, and also some of my goat cheese and goat milk soaps. The hall was a bustle of activity with people cooking, providing food and a place for families to gather. Upstairs, donations were being delivered and stored. A lot of sadness hung in the air, but also a lot of love. We witnessed many hugs.
Once we got outside, we were approached by a young man who turned out to be a reporter for Kiro News. He was very respectful of our space and told us he would leave us alone if we didn't want to talk, but might we be willing to answer a question? “How do you talk with your kids about all of this?”
I usually don't have much patience with media, but I was intrigued by the question. I think it's an important one. So we let ourselves be interviewed by this man who was incredibly sensitive to the situation. Even Kai and Lukas talked.

Both Steve and I feel it is very important to be open and truthful with our children, and to address their questions and fears. Since we don't have TV, our kids haven't been bombarded with images too much, but they do see pictures and videos I monitor on the internet and listen to the radio reports. They also see my own grief and my own tears, and they understand how tragic this really is. We've been talking with them a lot, especially addressing their concerns about a mudslide happening close to our house.

Our hearts go out to everyone who has been touched by this tragedy.  

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