OSO, Wash. - The community of Oso gathered for the eighth anniversary of the disastrous Oso Slide.
On March 22, 2014, a landslide devoured an entire subdivision of their town, killing 43 people. It was the deadliest landslide in U.S. history. During a ceremony on Tuesday, loved ones said their heartache was still fresh even after all this time.
"It’s eight years today and it still feels like it was yesterday when I was out here in the mud looking for my sister," said Dayne Brunner, whose sister, Summer Raffo, was killed.
"The day that changed our lives forever," sobbed Gail Thompson, who lost her home in the slide. "I miss my neighbors so much today."
During the ceremony, the community also took time to recognize the 11 survivors of the catastrophe. As they found some comfort coming together for another year to remember the loss, they said time has not healed their wounds.
"You learn to cope with it. But you don’t move on," said Brunner.
This year’s anniversary marked new hope. In late 2021, Snohomish County Council approved $4.8 million in the 2022 budget to secure the last piece of funding needed to build a memorial commemorating the Oso Slide. Family, friends and impacted community members had been advocating for this for years. It will be a permanent monument marking the history of that fateful day.
"All their lives and their legacies are remembered and their stories are told. And that’s what’s most important to me is that their stories get told. And everybody that stops here is going to read that story and know who she is," said Brunner.
John Hadaway’s brother, Steven, was killed. Ever since, Hadaway, Brunner and others have dedicated their lives and work with the county towards the permanent memorial. Hadaway said he even talks to his brother in spirit about the progress.
"I told him I will be there until it’s done and we’re not too far. I just told him yesterday we’re close. We just got to get to the next step," said teary-eyed Hadaway.
Snohomish County is finalizing work permits for the memorial over the next couple of weeks. Officials said they plan to break ground at the disaster site in a few months. The goal is to finish the memorial in time for the 10-year anniversary in March 2024.
"We’re so close. So, the time will come. The time will come, but I’m not going anywhere," said Hadaway. "March 22 of every year, as long as God gives me breath, this is where I will be."
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