EUGENE, Ore. — Officials say the death toll in a massive landslide in Washington is now 14.
It happened in the small town of OSO, about 55 miles north of Seattle. Two days after the slide, at least 108 people are unaccounted for or missing, but that number could change.
Some of the homes that were destroyed were not lived in full time. The massive slide also engulfed RVs and a mile of rural road. Although the rescue and clean-up efforts are in full swing in OSO, authorities say up stream, flooding is still a very real possibility.
As for if this type of disaster could happen here in Oregon, geology experts say don’t panic but be prepared.
The Coburg Hills is an area experts say could experience exactly what happened in that small Washington town.
It’s unclear how long ago the landslide there happened, but recent imaging technology reveals it was extensive, stretching miles down from its starting point, just barely stopping to where the I-5 freeway now sits.
Experts say one of the differences we’ll find when it comes to landslides from Washington to Oregon is Washington has many more glaciers that filled up the valleys with ice and sediments, which is at higher risk of sliding, but the risk is still there.
Oregon still has tens of thousands of historic landslide sites that are capable of moving. Ultimately, experts say knowing the history of a region is key. But even that is tough, as evidenced by this case in Washington, which experienced failures in both 1988 and 2006.
“The big question is, just like earthquake science, is how much rain matters. What kind of amount of saturation in the ground is going to cause it to go again? And those are the questions we don’t understand very well,” said Josh Roering, UO geology Associate Professor.
We also spoke to the chief scientist at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. He says people shouldn’t panic, but they should be proactive. They can use that map to find out where their property lies in relation to landslide sites and perhaps hire an engineering geologist to see what risks there are for them.
CNN also contributed to this report.