EVERETT, Wash. – One month after the State Route 530 Slide claimed the lives of at least 41 people, recovery continues. Local, state, tribal and federal partners have all collaborated in response to this tragedy.
The response of local community groups has been robust from the start. Immediately following the tragedy, the American Red Cross (ARC) began mobilizing response vehicles and trained disaster workers. To date, five ARC vehicles have been active in response and recovery, and a total of more than 400 trained workers – about half of them from Washington State – have responded. ARC has distributed more than 23,600 meals and snacks (in partnership with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief); 1,000 comfort and relief items; and more than 6,800 mental health or health-related contacts have been made. Additionally, ARC shelters have provided 140 overnight stays. The nonprofit has also provided transportation assistance to those who are experiencing significantly-increased commuting times due to the slide.
“From the very start, we’ve remained committed to supporting Snohomish County as survivors continue in the recovery process,” said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Hardin. “Our work has only just begun. We’ll stay focused on every disaster survivor for as long as necessary.”
On April 2, 2014, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for the State of Washington.The declaration made federal funding available to survivors in Snohomish County – including members of the Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, and Tulalip tribes – through the Individual Assistance program. Assistance may include funding for increased commuting costs and other disaster-related needs. To date, nearly $300,000 has been distributed in disaster assistance to eligible individuals and households through the Individual Assistance program. Additional funding is forthcoming.
Twenty-eight state agencies, as well as the Washington Conservation Corps, and the Washington Service Corps have provided assistance throughout the past 30 days in response to the disaster. Assistance provided to date includes search and rescue, and fatality extraction; security; emergency response and incident management personnel; environmental monitoring and hazardous materials recovery and disposal; aviation services; donations management; and administration of disaster assistance programs, among other services and activities.
All along, federal agencies have joined forces with and supported state and local search and rescue teams. Under a mission assignment from FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a temporary structure to hold back water and help dry out areas where search teams can complete their work. The barrier – which is called a berm – is 3,000 feet long and made from 20,000 tons of rock, gravel and earthen materials.
Local, state, tribal and federal support of tribal response and recovery needs remains a top priority. Since the slide, there has been a coordinated partnership among tribal and local charitable organizations and other groups. One example is the ongoing work of the Sauk-Suiattle tribe and ARC as they manage direct distribution of food and other resources to tribal members.
FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams continue to provide in-person, tailored information and services. DSA has been in contact with 382 survivors and have already registered 102 survivors for FEMA assistance. They have provided 19 case inquiries (looking up information upon request), 35 case updates (updating information, as needed), and 139 whole community referrals. The teams have visited 17 community locations and 18 business locations.
Approximately 29 local voluntary organizations, Washington Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WAVOAD) members, and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) have provided multiple services to survivors of the SR530 Slide. These disaster specific services include emergency financial assistance, financial assistance for transportation, emergency feeding, children’s disaster services, hospitality, spiritual and emotional care, and funeral assistance.
Local, state, tribal and federal agencies also continue to use the best resources to support survivors. Experts have been brought in to provide geologic monitoring of the site, incident management and hazardous materials recovery.
Under the Public Assistance program, federal funding was made available to state and eligible tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and debris removal. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will cover 75 percent of eligible costs.
Public Assistance funding will cover eligible costs associated with search and rescue operations. The Washington State Patrol deployed air support, chaplains, perimeter security, traffic control and provided regular records to the medical examination team. Additionally, nearly 600 National Guard soldiers were deployed to assist with the search.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is processing mudflow damage claims. FEMA is working with “Write Your Own” policy partners to pay eligible filed claims as soon as possible. FEMA encourages all homeowners that sustained damage as a result of SR530 Slide to file claims with their insurance company as soon as possible.
In addition to the Individual Assistance and Public Assistance programs, low-interest disaster loans are available to eligible homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit groups through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As of April 23, nearly $400,000 has so far been approved in SBA loans for survivors of the SR530 Slide.
“We will continue to work with local, tribal and state officials to ensure that every survivor of this tragedy receives all of the disaster assistance for which they are eligible,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Hall. “We remain committed to the mission, and we are looking ahead to a rapid recovery.”