‘Most of those folks never knew what hit them. It happened so quick’


Last updated 3/21/2019 at Noon

A gate at the site of the mudslide, with the slide’s scar in the background. Picture taken in July 2018.

Five years ago this Friday, March 22, an unstable portion of a hill above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River collapsed and dropped 270 million cubic feet of mud and debris into the river and into the quiet Steelhead Drive community near Oso in Snohomish County.

It was over in a flash. But after the flow stalled after crossing SR 530, it had covered more than 1 square mile and destroyed 49 homes. Forty-three people died.

Former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson, who was the county’s deputy county executive at the time and intimately involved with the slide’s aftermath, said he can’...

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