Obama Visits Mudslide-Hit Community In
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[April 23, 2014]
OSO, Washington (Reuters) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday visited the Washington state community
slammed by a deadly mudslide last month, offering condolences to the
families of victims, encouragement to rescue workers, and promises of
After viewing the mudslide from the air, Obama met for over an
hour with relatives of victims in a small chapel.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office said the remains of
41 victims had been recovered from the slide that buried a river
valley neighborhood in the Cascade mountain foothills last month.
A rain-soaked hillside collapsed above the north fork of the
Stillaguamish River on March 22, unleashing a torrent of mud that
swallowed up a stretch of a state highway and some three dozen homes
on the outskirts of this small town.
The president's helicopter hovered not far above the site of the
mudslide for about 15 minutes on Tuesday. Photographs showed a view
of the broad gash where the hillside gave way, and a tangled heap of
dirt and debris at its foot.
Obama, clad in khaki pants, boots and a navy blue windbreaker, also
visited a community center and the Oso fire station, where he spoke
with emergency workers and others involved in the rescue and
"These are folks who love this land and it's easy to see why — because it's gorgeous," he told an audience that included federal,
state and local search-and-rescue crews.
"The country is thinking about all of you and has been all
throughout this tragedy," he said. "We're not going anywhere. We'll
be here for as long as it takes."
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Behind the president, a banner read: "Oso Strong," and over his
shoulder, a large aerial photograph showed the extent of the
mudslide in the narrow valley. Homemade posters offering thanks and
good wishes to the residents of Oso ringed the walls of the small
Obama has signed an emergency declaration ordering U.S. government
assistance to supplement state and local relief efforts in the
aftermath of the mudslide and flooding.
He came to Oso on his way to Asia, where he is due to visit Japan,
South Korea, Malaysia and Philippines over the next eight days.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; editing by Peter Cooney)
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