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More Spokane-area responders deploying to Oso mudslide

More Spokane-area responders deploying to Oso mudslide

SPOKANE, Wash. - The number of dead and missing continues to rise in Oso with 28 confirmed fatalities, but so do the number of people from the Inland Northwest being sent there to help with the recovery and relief efforts.

Some of those who deployed to the area are members of the Washington Air National Guard based at Fairchild Air Force Base, some of whom said they were more than happy to help with recovery efforts in Oso. Staff Sergeant Michael Cohan said the toughest part for him was not being able to do enough to help the victims.

The symbol of hope and freedom, Cohan retrieved a tattered American flag from the mudslide debris. Like the close knit community in Snohomish County, the flag was battered but not broken.

"Surprised to see how much of that flag was still intact," Cohan said.

Help continues to pour into Snohomish County from across the state.

"So many different agencies working so diligently to try and help bring closure to the families and its just truly amazing to see," Captain Kevin Wolf with the Washington Air National Guard said.

The past three weeks have been a nightmare for residents affected by the slide, a trying time for those helping them dig out, and the worst part for some is not being able to do enough.

"Spend hours just digging and not finding anything it can just be a real discouragement," Cohan said.

On Tuesday Spokane County sent a group of chaplains to help victims and responders alike.

"I know that the folks who lived there certainly had a tragedy but the folks over there helping them are living with some of the same feelings," Ed Lewis said.

Four K-9 search and rescue teams have also been deployed from Spokane.

Emergency management officials say adrenaline keeps first responders going for only so long.

"At some point all the pressure of that time is going to build up and has to be dealt with," Lewis said.

Air traffic control in the airspace over the mudslide has been handed over to Spokane County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Dave Ellis as first responders are being rotated out of the mudslide zone.

"You do have to step back, take a breather and let someone fresh come in and help out," Cohan said.

Many of the volunteers out in Oso right now are helping out on their own time, making that sacrifice to help out their neighbors in need in the wake of this disaster.