FAQs

Updated 10 AM 8/27/2014

What answers are you looking for?
the search | the access road or highway | disaster assistance | personal belongings | water and environmental | property information | flood information | general slide information

The search
Has the search for slide victims officially stopped?
Yes. Searchers recovered the final victim July 22, 2014.

Do you have any other searches planned? What will that look like?
At this time, we don’t plan to actively search the slide material. Right now, spotters assisting with debris removal efforts will be alert for meaningful personal items that may still be in the slide material.

How many victims have you identified?
Updated  information is provided by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office at www.SnohomishCountyWa.gov/530SlideME

The access road or highway
How can I get approved to use the access road?
The access road is managed by WSDOT. Please visit WSDOT's SR 530 page to learn more, or contact SR530Info@wsdot.wa.gov.

How long will it take to get the highway reopened?
WSDOT reopened the highway to two-way traffic Friday, June 20. Please visit WSDOT's SR 530 page to learn more.

How can I apply to work on the road reconstruction?
WSDOT has the lead on road rebuilding. Please visit WSDOT's 530 slide employment page for information about how you can be involved. 


Disaster assistance
Now that the search has ended, does this mean state and FEMA assistance is ending?
No. Even though FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers closed May 10, State and FEMA assistance is still available. Anyone affected by the slide is encouraged to register with FEMA either online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 800.621.3362.

Where can I go to get help?
Snohomish County has family support centers in Darrington and Arlington to help those affected by the 530 slide.

  • Darrington - 1075 Fir Street
  • Arlington - 19118 63rd Ave NE

What can I do to help?
View the "How to Help"  page at www.SnohomishCountyWA.gov/530Help


Personal belongings
How are you planning to get personal belongings back to family members?

We have a process in place to clean and store personal property and memorabilia recovered from the slide material, as well as to return it to families. We’ve provided information about how to reclaim those items to families. Out of respect for them, we have no plans to release that information to the public. If family members have not been notified about this program, they can contact the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.


Water and environmental information
What is Snohomish County Surface Water Management (SWM) doing to monitor water flows on the Stillaguamish River?
Prior to the March 22 slide, the North Fork Stillaguamish River near Arlington had two stream-flow gauges with data available on the county’s Real-Time Flood Warning System website. The data obtained by these gauges show where water levels are rising or falling along the river.

After the slide occurred, USGS added three more stream-flow gauges at key points in the slide area: at Whitman Bridge, C-Post Road, and Swede Heaven. These new gauges will provide more detailed and accurate information about river conditions, and allow responding agencies and residents to better determine their actions during periods of high flow.
Data from these five gauges are available online through:

Recently, USGS added another set of three gauges downstream of the slide: #12166240 (Rowan), #12166400 (SR 530- Bridge 128 near Oso), and #12166495 (Oso Loop Road Bridge). Data collected can be viewed online. All three gauges will record water-surface elevation every 15 minutes and report every hour by satellite.

What is SWM doing to monitor sediment on the river?
After the slide occurred, USGS added a sediment gauge at Whitman Bridge. As part of the effort to monitor the river, SWM is partnering with USGS to monitor the sediment movement downstream of the slide. You can learn more on the Snohomish County website.

USGS also added three new gauges to monitor sediment transport and water levels in between the slide and Whitman Bridge: #12166240 (Rowan), #12166400 (SR 530- Bridge 128, near Oso), and #12166495 (Oso Loop Road Bridge). Data collected by these gauges can be viewed online. USGS will measure channel depth at the two gauges near bridges (SR 530- Bridge 128 and Oso) on a periodic basis. WSDOT will also monitor the river channel bottoms below their bridges at SR 9, MP 29.69; SR 530, MP 28.7; and at SR 530, MP 33.86.

Is well water in this area safe to drink?
Many residents along the river have private wells for their drinking water that pull from underground aquifers, not the river. Well water should not be affected by the slide itself, but flooding may contaminate wells. Disinfecting wells is the first step after returning to a flooded property, and can be done by the homeowner. Professional water testing comes later. Residents of the Oso area concerned about their well water are encouraged to contact the Snohomish Health District for advice and assistance at 425-339-5250. You can also check out the Health District's flooding fact sheet.

Is the slide area contaminated?
The slide area as a whole is not contaminated, but isolated parts of the debris field may contain hazardous waste from the homes in the area, as well as biohazards such as animal carcasses. Common household hazardous waste includes propane and gas cylinders; automotive oil and fuel additives; paint, paint thinners; pesticides; electronic wastes; and white goods (refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers).

Is the river safe for swimming or other recreation?
Yes - though you should always be alert for changing river conditions and cold water temperatures. Snohomish Health District, the lead local health agency, collected surface water samples from multiple sites in addition to samples collected by the Environmental Protection Agency over a period of several days. These samples were analyzed by state health officials; the analysis shows the waters don’t pose a threat to people who may work or recreate within them.

The mudslide has impacted fish habitat in the immediately affected area, but it is too early to speculate on the impact of the slide on fish life in the North Fork Stillaguamish. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will conduct weekly spawning surveys through June.


Property information
Do I need flood insurance? How do I get it?
Flood risk changes year to year. Visit the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website to learn more about your flood risk and how you can get flood insurance.

What sort of building regulations will the county place on properties in this area?
The county’s Planning and Development Services department is coordinating with the County Council to provide information and help develop temporary regulations. Our state and federal agency partners, including FEMA, have been tremendously helpful as we gather information so we can move forward with both a short and long-term land-use strategy for those areas affected by the Oso slide and the unincorporated county as a whole. You can find additional information on the PDS website.

Is the county considering a buyout of property owners affected by the slide?
Yes. The county is working with FEMA to begin the process of applying for grant funding. To learn more, please view our buyout FAQ handout.

My property is red-tagged by the county, but I need access so I can start cleaning up or rebuilding. What can I do or who can I contact?
Get in touch with Mike McCrary at m.mccrary@snoco.org or 425-388-3346. He's the building official for Snohomish County Planning and Development Services and can explain what the tag on your property means and guide you through the process of what you can and can't do with the property.

Who can I contact if my property was affected by the slide and the property value is lower? 
If your property was affected by the 530Slide please contact our Residential Appraisal Manager Brad Cone at Brad.Cone@Snoco.org or call (425) 388-3556.

Where do I find information about the assessed value of my property if it  was damaged in the slide?
The Assessor's office has information about changes in assessed property value online at http://www.snohomishcountywa.gov/2367/Property-Tax-Relief 


 
River flooding information
Should I get flood insurance if I live near the slide area?
Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) covers any losses to your property regardless of whether you live in a flood hazard area or not. Traditional homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding. To learn more, read our NFIP FAQ handout

What should people who live upstream of the slide expect in terms of river flooding?
There are likely to be higher flood levels than there were previously. The county has widened the river channel through the landslide material, roughly doubling the width of the channel so that the level of the water behind the slide material drops and more water can pass through the area. We’re also working with experts to model how the river is working upstream so we can understand how it might react this fall during heavy rains. As we get more information, we’ll make it available on the county website.

What can the county do for people whose houses flood in the fall?
The county is working with experts to get a better understanding of what the river is doing both upstream and downstream of the slide now that it’s cut this new channel. We want to understand how it might react during heavy rains or rapid snowmelt. The county does have a comprehensive flood information outreach program that can help homeowners who are or might be affected by river flooding. Much of that information is available on the county website. Homeowners who don’t currently have flood insurance should also decide if they need flood insurance. The county’s flooding education and outreach program may be able to provide guidance.

Is hazard or flood information available on the county website?
Yes. Information about river flooding – including technical analysis, options for homeowners, and education and outreach – is available online. The county's real-time flood warning information page and NW River Center's gauge along the North Fork, Stillaguamish at Oso provide real-time river level information. The county’s 2010 Natural Hazard Mitigation plan and other emergency preparedness and planning information can be found online.


General slide information
Who can I call if I need crisis care?

Round-the-clock crisis care hotline for those in the community who have been affected by the landslide: 1-800-584-3578. Professionals are standing by to help you sort through your feelings and frustrations, work through problems and connect to mental health emergency resources. This service is for your counseling help only. Please do not use this number to ask about the status of the emergency response near Arlington or to report information about missing people.

Can the public go into the slide area?
Except for Highway 530, this area is private property; people who aren’t landowners would be trespassing on private property if they go out into the slide area. We do want to emphasize that the slide material can be dangerous to untrained people. We also want the public to be respectful of the families whose loved ones lost their lives in the slide. 
 
How big is the debris field?
The debris field is roughly one square mile. Satellite lidar scans of the debris field show debris that ranges in height from 15 to 75 feet.

How many structures were affected?
In the slide area, there were 59 vacant lots, 49 parcels that had some form of a structure. One was a cabin. 13 were manufactured homes and RVs. 35 were stick-built houses. Of those 49, 25 were occupied full time, 10 were occupied part time or were vacation homes.