The Sounds of Recovery: We’re Listening
We’re listening, and all around, we hear the sounds of recovery. Like the sounds of silence, the sounds of recovery can be as profound as the devastation surrounding it. We’re listening, and by the sounds we are hearing, we see hope – all around. Here are three signs of some of the recovery work happening in Washington:
The SR 530 Slide song created by local residents served as one source of healing for all survivors.
Out of the devastation, they created music. One of the many inspiring examples of people turning from loss toward recovery is on the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe reservation, where a group of eight girls wrote a song to honor the school friends they lost in the SR 530 slide.
The girls wrote the song with the help of Grammy-winning musician Star Nayea.
“When you’re faced with tragedy that’s only 20 miles down the road from you, it’s unfathomable,” Nayea said. “There are no words to describe or capture the feeling it brings sharing this gift of healing power of music. It is a priceless gift and privilege, and honor of having an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life.”
The girls, members of the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, Tulalip tribes and the town of Darrington, are an example of survivors from different communities uniting while sharing in the healing process. Together, the girls beat a two-day deadline to get their song rehearsed and ready to perform. They sang their song “Oso Strong Highway 530,” during one of the first community recovery meetings, which was held in Darrington on April 3. Their performance in Darrington was covered by local news outlets.
Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe elder Mary Jack, enrolled at Tulalip, worked closely with the girls to write the song during their spring break from school. It was especially tough timing for a school vacation, so soon after the tragedy, but Jack found that working on the song was a positive, productive project that kept the girls focused on the positive.
“‘Oso Strong Highway 530’ has helped the girls in so many ways,” Jack said. “Maybe the song will help the community start to heal, too.”
An excerpt from the song “Oso Strong Highway 530”:
Oso strong Arlington, Skaglund Hill.
Oso life, Steelhead Drive we won’t forget you!
Oso bright, is the light…
We search to find!
Threads of our community are frayed.
We all must rise up, to pray!
Painful memories… may never fade.
Life will go on, starting today!
©Copyright 2014, all rights reserved. Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, Darrington, Wash.
Composed and performed by: Kaylee Frazee, Sarah Larson, Jordan Maltos, Malia Maltos, Raime McCord, Kyla Roundface, Natalie Stewart.
Produced and arranged by: Star Nayea
Local residents expressed their thanks and appreciation to first responders in several ways
Members of the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe said “thank you” to first responders and emergency workers on April 24 by preparing a traditional meal of salmon, which is one of the most vital economic, cultural and historic elements of the communities that were directly impacted by the slide. The salmon dinner acknowledged the recovery work – much of which continues – of the National Guard, Darrington firefighters and the Bellingham Incident Management Team. The salmon was cooked outdoors, according to tradition, on the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe reservation.
Caregivers were able to take time to decompress and reflect on their SR 530 Slide recovery experiences and craft a personal self-care plan for future use.
They talked out their feelings. In Everett, where the Washington Military Department Emergency Management Division and FEMA continue partnering together in SR 530 slide recovery in the joint field office, the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team recently hosted a “Care for the Caregiver” workshop. During the seven-hour session, volunteers and emergency workers who cared for others after the SR 530 slide, including two specialists with FEMA who personally contacted those who lost loved ones in the tragedy, exchanged their stories.
“I could feel the weight lifting from my shoulders” said FEMA Disaster Recovery Center Manager Wendy Newsom.
Many of the self-care techniques discussed during the workshop are simple steps that can be taken anywhere. For instance, those with limited personal time or space can create a healing center, anywhere, by lighting candles and bringing items like leaves, stones or flowers indoors. A simple meditation rock or leaf can inject a breath of nature into indoor work space.
Workshop participants discussed the need to identify and reach out to people who are willing to listen. Talking through feelings with someone else about what happened can be a rich source of healing.
As recovery continues, help is still available…
Information and links to multi-agency resources are available on the Snohomish County website.
Those directly impacted by the SR 530 Slide may call a help line operated by the state of Washington. The number is (800) 688-3469. Hours of operation for the help line are Monday –Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time. More information is available from Washington’s Emergency Management Division.
SR 530 Slide survivors can also continue to speak directly with FEMA representatives by calling the FEMA help line. The number is (800) 621-FEMA (3362). 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) is available through this number. Survivors who use TTY, may call (800) 462-7585. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, seven days a week.
More information is available about the SR 530 slide disaster declaration.