Mudslide Death Toll Hits 41 in Washington; Only 2 Remain Missing

Image: Mudslide Death Toll Hits 41 in Washington; Only 2 Remain Missing

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 12:41 PM

By Nick Sanchez

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The death toll of the March mudslide in Oso, Wash., increased by two this week after a husband and wife were identified, bringing the total to 41.

The Associated Press reports that Steven D. Harris, 52, and Teresa C. Harris, 53, died of blunt force injuries on March 22, according to the Snohomish County medical examiner's office. The couple spent weekends at their cabin on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

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Only two names remain on the list of the missing, including 53-year-old Dish Network employee Steve Hadaway and 44-year-old Kris Regelbrugge, whose husband's body has been recovered.

President Barack Obama plans to visit the area on Tuesday, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to the search for the missing, survivors are facing a number of new problems caused by the large mudslide: Residents are unsure if their well water is potable and safe to use, what timeline is being put in place for road re-openings, and if warning systems for future slides will be improved, for example.

There is also a concern about the potential flooding of the Stillaguamish River that runs through the disaster area.

Blockage accumulated from the slide could mean that fall rains may cause "flooding upstream that didn't used to be there," said Snohomish County Director of Public Works Steve Thomsen, the WSJ reported. "There's a giant plug in the valley 30 feet deep. Imagine a giant beaver dam. A beaver dam on steroids."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced $13 million for relief efforts this week along with a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Labor Department. The state said that the total costs are hard to calculate at this point because nearly 100 federal, state, and local agencies are involved in some way or another, however the costs have already surpassed $10 million, and could exceed $53 million in the end.

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