EUGENE, Ore. – Twenty-four deaths have been confirmed from the mudslide in Oso, Wash., and crews across the nation are helping survivors – including the American Red Cross chapter in Eugene.
The search continues for those who are still missing, but in the meantime, nonprofits are working with survivors to provide basic needs.
The American Red Cross has sent out about 100 trained volunteers to help on site. Sixteen are from Oregon.
“We want to make sure people have access to the most basic human needs: food, shelter and clothing,” said Trevor Covington, the Disaster Program Manager at the Oregon Pacific Chapter for the American Red Cross. “We have two volunteers from our chapter there right now.”
Covington says the Oregon Pacific Chapter has sent out volunteers to other disasters nationwide, including relief efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. He says it is important for outside organizations to help when there are emergencies around the nation.
“It’s important to be able to bring outside people in,” he said. “One – in any given area it’s hard to have enough people trained and experienced in a disaster response to be able to handle it.”
He also says sending volunteers from the Eugene area gives them the experience to deal with a disaster.
“So if something happens at any given time, they have had some experience ahead of time to help locally.”
The Red Cross says it will have volunteers on site for weeks to come – including those from Eugene.
“Especially the responses like this – it’s an ongoing thing,” Covington said. “So people might go out for two to three weeks and then we send a couple more.”
So far 30 survivors are staying in Red Cross shelters near the mudslide site. Covington says crews are making sure survivors have access to everyday supplies as well as counseling services. He says the mudslide is a good reminder for everyone to prepare for emergencies.
“At least have three days worth of all the supplies you need so you can survive post-disaster,” Covington said. “Everyone should be prepared. Know what hazards are in your area and make an emergency plan.”
He says anyone who is interested in volunteering for future disasters is encouraged to contact the American Red Cross.