Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Features

March 28, 2014

Mudslide region deals with 'mind-numbing' disaster

In the days since the devastating landslide swept through a stretch of northwest Washington state, all the news has been bad. As hundreds of workers spent a fifth day digging through debris and wreckage, the death toll increased to 16 and was expected to keep rising; worse, no survivors have been found since Saturday, the day the landslide hit.

More than 200 rescue workers continued to search the area, trying to find survivors and bodies, a job complicated by the nature of the landslide site, which has been compared to quicksand by officials. The slide area spans a square mile, and it is at least 15 feet deep in some spots, according to the county. Rescue workers must search a sea of mud and debris, navigating the twisted wreckage of cars, piles of wood, refuse from homes, spilled gasoline and septic material that are all mixed together in the search area.

"Our rescuers were sinking down to their thighs in the soft silt," Bill Quistorf, the chief helicopter pilot for the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, said during a news conference Wednesday. "It was very difficult."

These workers are digging through the carnage with their hands and shovels, searching the area from helicopters and with infrared scanners, trying to focus on areas where they think there could be people. Using search dogs has been the most effective way of finding bodies, helping rescuers to figure out the areas to look, Travis Hots, the Snohomish County District 21 fire chief, told reporters.

Rain arrived Tuesday and was expected to continue for days, which made for another challenge, Hots said. The environment itself has also posed dangers and challenges. Rescue crews had been pulled back for a few hours Monday because of fears that additional slides were possible, while authorities are also keeping an eye on the Stillaguamish River to watch for flood hazards.

"It's just amazing the magnitude and the force that this slide has created and what it has done," Hots said.

The field of debris can also be dangerous for workers. A volunteer rescue worker was taken to the hospital after suffering minor injuries Tuesday; a helicopter kicked up a small bit of debris that hit him in the head.

"It was pretty mind-numbing," rescue worker Randy Fay said of the devastation.

He choked up when describing the rescue of a young boy on Saturday. Working with injured children is the hardest thing, he said, because you think about your own loved ones.

"The good news, the silver lining, is mom and kid are back together, so that's what you hang onto," he said during an emotional appearance.

The death toll had reached 16 by Wednesday, and authorities believed they had found another eight bodies, although those have not been recovered or brought to a medical examiner, John Pennington, director of emergency for the county, said in a briefing.

"We believe we have located an additional eight, but that is not a confirmed number yet," Pennington said.

Ninety people are still missing or unaccounted for after the slide, he said Wednesday night. In addition, there are nearly three dozen other people whose status remains unknown.

1
Text Only
Features
  • VIDEO: Texas shoppers smash window to rescue children in hot car

    Shoppers in Texas took matter into their own hands, smashing a Jeep's windows with a hammer when they say they saw two young children inside the hot car. The children's mother reportedly said she left them while she went to get a haircut.

    July 16, 2014

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scientists exposed to anthrax as U.S. lab procedures break down

    About 75 scientists may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria in government labs after the material was mishandled while being used in experiments, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

    June 25, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.17.35 AM.png VIDEO: Twin twisters in Nebraska

    Storm chasers captured some incredible footage of a pair of tornadoes on the ground near the northeast Nebraska village of Pilger earlier on Monday.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alison_Lundergan_Grimes_2011.jpg Kentucky Senate race hangs on coal counties that rejected Obama

    President Barack Obama's decision to propose tougher limits on power-plant emissions poses a threat to Democrats in the coal-rich mountainsides of Kentucky and to their efforts to keep control of the Senate.

    June 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • airplanes-work-1.jpg Airfare honesty? It may be an oxymoron

    The issue of fare advertising has taken on a renewed sense of urgency now that Congress is considering removing the Transportation Department's full-fare advertising rule, which requires airlines and ticket sellers to display a price that you can actually book.

    May 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Is hashtag activism better than doing nothing? Or about the same?

    More than 1 million people — including first lady Michelle Obama — have tweeted the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. But whether they're helping the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria or hopping on some kind of first-world digital bandwagon depends, frankly, on whom you ask.

    May 14, 2014

  • A mom, a printer, and the new digital ease of counterfeiting

    Tarshema Brice hardly ranks among the world's elite counterfeiters. But with the help of modern consumer technology, she developed an exacting system for crafting fake U.S. greenbacks.

    May 14, 2014

  • The secrets behind Starbucks' secret menu

    You see, Starbucks has gone well beyond allowing people to build custom orders around its traditional coffee drinks.
    Last weekend, before my daughter and I left home, she had already searched for "Starbucks secret menu" on the computer and narrowed her choices to a handful of drinks (all of which involved various ingredients from Starbucks' menu for adult drinks)

    May 7, 2014

  • Your phone may not have the right to remain silent

    Big Brother would have loved your smartphone. It not only knows where you've been and who's in touch with you but also records your photos, texts, e-mails and social media exchanges. Linked to the cloud, it allows access to your entire digital lifespan, including financial and medical records.

    April 30, 2014

Poll