ARLINGTON, Wash. – The focus today was on rescue and recovery efforts, along with debris removal on both the east and west sides of the slide. East-side crews faced some challenges with the condition of the service road leading into the slide site, but were able to enhance the service road and get a lot of work done. Crews plan to work overnight to enhance the road so it will be in good condition tomorrow.
Rescue crews did not recover any victims from the slide area today; the total number of fatalities remains at 16.
Missing-person specialists with the Sheriff’s Office were able to reconcile a significant number of people reporting missing. We verified that 140 people who registered through the Red Cross safe and well are in fact safe. Tonight, we can report that 90 people are currently missing or unaccounted for. The status of 35 people is unknown at this time.
Community groups continue to step up to provide support to Darrington. In addition to a $75,000 donation from the United Way yesterday, Safeway donated $20,000 to the mayor of Darrington today.
The Mountain Loop Highway opened as planned at 1 p.m. today. Drivers are reminded that this is a very primitive roadway, normally closed to traffic in the winter. Many locations are one-way with pull outs, and the road has a maximum speed limit of 25 mph. It is not suitable for freight traffic. Drivers are used to urge caution as they drive through the area.
The U.S. Postal Service is able to provide mail service to those affected by the slide. All mail is being forwarded to the Darrington post office for collection. Residents need to bring valid ID to the post office to get their mail. The state Department of Licensing will be in Darrington from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday to help reissue driver’s licenses to those affected by the slide.
Beginning Friday, March 28, Community Transit will begin new bus service to connect the residents of Darrington with grocery and medical services in Skagit County, and job centers in Arlington and Everett. More information about this new route – number 231 – is expected to be available online at www.communitytransit.org by Thursday, March 27.
A crisis care hotline is available for those in the community who have been affected by the landslide. That number is 1-800-584-3578, and it is staffed around the clock to provide counseling and crisis intervention.