Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
2 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

OSO, Wash. - The body of a 4-month-old girl was found at the site of the Oso landslide in Washington state Thursday.

Sanoah Violet Huestis was with her grandmother, Christina Jefferds, on Saturday when the mudslide hit this community of several dozen homes on Steelhead Drive.

The baby was found in the debris not far from where her grandmother's body was found Sunday. The family had waited to bury Jefferds until they could lay Sanoah to rest beside her.

Sanoah's mother, Natasha Huestis, confirmed that her child's body was found. She was in nearby Arlington when disaster struck.

Her daughter's name means "mist in the mountains" in Hawaiian, Huestis told KING TV earlier this week.

"And you know, she's in the mountains right now," she said.

When Sanoah is added to the death toll, after the Snohomish County medical examiner has received her body, it will have reached 25.

Ninety names remain on the list of those missing and unaccounted for since the disaster.

At the site of the slide, the 600-foot hill that once towered over the street has turned what was once a country lane of homes, cabins and barns into a disaster zone of grey and brown mud. Homes are visible as tangles of sheet rock, wood and wiring.

"You've got clay balls the size of ambulances that have rolled off that hill and smashed into everything as they've come down," said Chief Travis Hots of Snohomish County Fire District 21.

"There are forensic digging teams out there now digging through homes," said Steve Mason, battalion chief for Snohomish County Fire District 1. More than 200 search-and-rescue workers are on scene.

Each house is inspected by a team that delicately cuts into it so searching can begin. If no one is found in the outer part of the house, "the machine goes in and takes a small bite and you look through that very carefully," he said.

The searchers are working in waist-deep mud at some points, Mason said.

"It's very hard to be methodical in this situation."

For that reason, fresh searchers are being rotated in, Hots said."The folks who are out there can't keep doing this forever. They're getting tired and need a break."

In one area, a victim was found in a car that had been pushed 200 feet off Highway 530 by the power of the slide.

It took workers an hour to remove the roof of the car because their equipment kept jamming with mud.

When a body is removed, the site suddenly goes quiet. "You can almost hear a pin drop out there," Hots said. "You see seasoned veterans, their eyes get glossy. It's their way of showing respect for people's loved ones."

Despite the wreckage and destruction, the air that blows across the site is fresh and cold, with the smell of the river and rain in it.

Rain worries the workers.

The terrain is extremely rugged and the possibility of further slides is never far from anyone's mind. Geologists have placed delicate instruments at the top of the slide to monitor for movement.

The workers have crafted their own measuring devices. They've wrapped about 6 feet of aluminum foil into some of the trees just above the slide, so they will immediately be able to tell if they've fallen, which could indicate more earth movement, Mason said.

The entire county seems to be pitching in to help the rescue effort, so much so that officials are begging people not to bring more food to the fire stations. They're full to bursting.

At the Food Pavilion supermarket in Arlington on Thursday, volunteers who spontaneously organized through Facebook were loading personal trailers with food to drive the two-hour detour route to their sister town of Darrington, which remains cut off by since the slide buried Highway 530.

"We were all on Facebook and we wanted to do something to help, so we just started collecting food and money," said Kara Brown, 29. A native of Arlington, she now lives south of town in Marysville.

We've filled up three trailers and we've collected $4,100, and $1,000 in gasoline cards," she said.

The group made up sweatshirts that say "Oso strong" on the front and "Oso much hope" on the back.

Store manager Loly Ramirez was getting ready to cook up 200 pounds of chicken with mashed potatoes and rolls to take to the workers for dinner.

"We're doing what we can," she said. "They shopped here. They're our customers. They're our friends."

Heather Graf also reports for KING-TV, Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.

Pool reporting by Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

2 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.ksdk.com/1mxrkT6