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Washington asks for federal help with deadly mudslide
First Published Mar 31 2014 07:47 pm • Last Updated Mar 31 2014 07:47 pm

Darrington, Wash. • Estimated financial losses from the deadly Washington mudslide that has killed at least 24 people have reached $10 million, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday in a letter asking the federal government for a major disaster declaration.

In seeking additional federal help following one of the deadliest landslides in U.S. history, Inslee said about 30 families need assistance with housing, along with personal and household goods. The estimated losses include nearly $7 million in structures and more than $3 million in their contents, Inslee’s letter said.

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The Snohomish County medical examiner’s office said Monday afternoon that it has received a total of 24 victims, and 17 of those have been positively identified. Previously, the official death toll was 21, with 15 victims identified.

Authorities have said more than two dozen people remain missing following the March 22 slide that destroyed a rural mountainside community northeast of Seattle.

Inslee is also seeking federal help with funeral expenses for up to 48 people, and mental health care programs for survivors, volunteers, community members and first responders.

Monday’s request asks for access to disaster housing, disaster grants, disaster-related unemployment insurance, and crisis counseling programs for those in Snohomish County and for the Stillaguamish, Sauk-Suiattle and Tulalip Indian tribes.

Steve Harris, a division supervisor for the search effort, said Monday that search teams have been learning more about the force of the slide, helping them better locate victims in a debris field that is 70 feet deep in places.

"There’s a tremendous amount of force and energy behind this," Harris said of the slide.

Harris said search dogs are the primary tool for finding victims, and searchers are finding human remains four to six times per day. Sometimes crews only find partial remains, which makes the identification process harder.

Meanwhile, members of the Seattle Seahawks football team and Seattle Sounders soccer team were scheduled to visit with community members Monday evening.


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Baumann reported from Seattle.



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