By Jack Broom,Â The Seattle Times
OSO, Wash. â Two young families who live just outside the section of Highway 530 closed by the March 22 mudslide say the disaster has left them shaken, and uncertain what to do next.
âIf it was just me, Iâd stay out here forever, but weâve got three kids to think about,â said Brittney Lein, 26. She and her husband, Jon, knew one of the mudslideâs confirmed victims and two others who are listed as missing.
A âGod bless Osoâ sign that Lein painted hangs along the familyâs driveway, which is just west of where road signs and a law-enforcement vehicle mark the farthest east the public can drive, 14 miles east of Arlington, Wash.
Lein said the landslideâs immense debris field is about a mile and a half away.
âWe bought this place, so we canât just leave,â she said. âBut if we could sell it. … Weâd have to give it some thought.â The coupleâs children are 10, six, and one and a half.
Lein said the house is on an elevated piece of ground considered safe from floods. But she had no idea of its potential vulnerability to landslides until â after last monthâs slide â she looked at a U.S. Geological Survey map online. It indicates that several other nearby hills could be prone to slides, she said.
The Leins moved from Arlington to the picturesque area along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River three years ago. âIt was a good deal, and weâre country people,â she said. âWe donât really like the city.â
Next door, Olivia McKernan said she and her husband, Jordan Quillen, moved from Monroe eight months ago for the quiet, and the proximity of the mountains.
âI grew up in Leavenworth, and this reminded me of that. It seemed perfect,â Olivia McKernan said. The couple have a 10-month-old son.
McKernan and her husband rent, and are less tied down than the Leins, but have not decided what they will do. She didnât know any of the victims personally, but shares the communityâs sense of loss.
âIâve been pretty much inside and havenât really met many people,â she said.
The two womenâs husbands, both electricians, drive together to work in the Bellevue area.
Brittney Lein said her husband had built a cabin for John and Kris Regelbrugge, who lived on Steelhead Drive in the slide area. John Regelbruggeâs body has been recovered; his wife has been listed as missing.
Also missing is Mark Gustafson, whom Lein said lived alone.
Lein said Gustafson and Jon Lein sometimes worked together on cabins and other construction jobs.
In fact, she said, the Leins still have a recorded phone message from Gustafson, in which he called a couple days before the slide to see if Jon Lein knew of any available work.
Although she isnât sure what relatives Gustafson had, Brittney Lein said she is keeping the recording in case they would like to hear his voice.
The slide âfelt like an earthquake,â Brittney Lein said, although her kids, who had been playing in the house, said they did not feel it. The family was evacuated for about four days.
Since returning, she has felt herself flinch from the vibrations whenever heavy trucks pass, often loaded with rocks to build an emergency-access road. âMy first thought is: Is it another slide?â