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Redmond community lends a hand for Oso mudslide relief

Workers with Medical Teams International, which has a location in Redmond, unload boxes of hygiene kits to be delivered to the Oso community. - Courtesy of Medical Teams International
Workers with Medical Teams International, which has a location in Redmond, unload boxes of hygiene kits to be delivered to the Oso community.
— image credit: Courtesy of Medical Teams International

After the mudslide hit Oso the morning of March 22, communities throughout Washington as well as the nation have found ways to pitch in and help the communities that have been affected.

Redmond is no different.

A CITY ON STANDBY

Currently, three City of Redmond firefighters are at the site of the mudslide helping with search efforts as they are Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urban search-and-rescue (US&R) trained. They were deployed March 24.

Debbie Newman with Redmond’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said US&R individuals have a lot of additional, specialized training and usually help with building collapses from earthquakes or other natural disasters. She said they also have specialized equipment such as cameras that can fit into small areas that could help during a search.

“They’ve been there almost two weeks assisting with recovery operations and doing everything they can in the most extreme and grueling conditions,” said Redmond Fire Chief Tommy Smith about the three firefighters currently in Oso. “We’re proud of the efforts they’re providing and our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones and their community.”

In addition to the firefighters, Newman said one OEM staff member was deployed the day of the mudslide as a Red Cross shelter volunteer.

“She put in a couple shifts,” she said

Newman said she does not know the specifics of what the staff member has been doing, but typically, shelter volunteers help people who may be looking for loved ones, in need of a warm drink or somewhere to stay the night or other needs. In some cases, people have lost all of their belongings, so the shelter volunteers’ jobs are to make people as comfortable as possible.

Newman said with an incident of this size, there is usually an emergency operations center set up, which is a room full of people on phones and computers working to get resources to those out on the field. If staff at the Oso center needs to be rotated, they will send out a request to surrounding agencies and Newman said Redmond’s OEM is currently on standby, ready to be deployed if needed.

SUPPLIES AS NEEDED

While the City of Redmond is providing services — or ready to provide services — to the mudslide relief efforts, Medical Teams International (MTI) in Redmond has supplied the Oso community with 300 hygiene kits. Each kit contains a bar of soap, washcloth and a toothbrush as well as toothpaste, shampoo and a comb or brush.

Angela Pratt, communications and marketing manager for MTI, said the kits came from MTI’s Redmond location as well as its international headquarters in Tigard, Ore. The supplies for the kits, she said, are collected throughout the year and typically, the kits are distributed to area social service agencies. But in an emergency situation such as the Oso mudslide, communities will request kits from MTI. Pratt said they received requests for 300 hygiene kits for the mudslide relief efforts and will send more if they receive another request.

“We respond when asked to come,” she said, adding that MTI is not collecting any sort of cash donations at this time.

COMMUNITIES HELPING COMMUNITIES

Another way the Redmond community is coming together to do its part is by raising money.

In response to the disaster, St. Jude Catholic Church in Redmond initially wrote a $1,000 check to the Catholic Community Services of Snohomish County.

Sister Betty Schumacher, pastoral associate for St. Jude, said the money will go toward local churches that serve the Oso area, which include St. John Vianney in Darrington and Immaculate Conception Church in Arlington. The money will be used however local parishioners choose in reaching out to the community. Schumacher said part of the funds will also go toward covering funeral expenses.

Currently, the St. Jude website features a link to donate directly to Catholic Community Services. Schumacher said there is no way to keep track of where the money is coming from or how much one community has contributed on the website.

To raise more money for the cause, she said St. Jude will take up an actual collection during this weekend’s services.

Hopelink, a human services agency in Redmond, is also doing what it can to help those affected by the mudslide.

Spokesperson Kris Betker said the organization’s designation as a community action agency restricts their service to north and east King County. The only exception is transportation as Hopelink has a partnership with the state’s Department of Social and Health Services.

“We do provide rides to medical appointments through Medicaid and that particular service extends beyond King County,” Betker said. “Hopelink is currently serving 23 clients from the Darrington area and the closure of Highway 530 has resulted in further isolation for many of them. We have been working with these clients on a daily basis to ensure they are able to make it to their medical appointments on time.”

HEALING ARTS

In addition, local Nia dance instructors have held benefit dance classes that were donation based, with the money going toward the mudslide relief efforts.

Pauline Osborne, an instructor from Redmond, held a benefit class Saturday morning at DanceWorks Studio in Redmond. She had held donation-based classes for the last month with the idea of the funds to go toward class expenses, but after the mudslide, she decided to take that money — about $50 since the classes were pretty small — and added it to the pool of money collected during her class on Saturday. The total collected, including the past month’s donations, was $560. Osborne is donating the money to United Way of Snohomish County.

She said she was surprised and gracious with how much people donated — one person gave $100 and another gave $200 — especially since they only had two days’ notice.

“They just wanted to give and here was the opportunity,” Osborne said, adding that a little more than a dozen people attended the class.

The idea to hold benefit classes came from Randee Fox, a Nia faculty trainer and black belt instructor.

She said she was really sad when she heard the news of the mudslide and needed to do something. So she created a logo to go with the benefit classes, saying sometimes it helps to have a visual.

Fox held three benefit classes at the Blue Heron Ranch Studio in Sammamish over the last weekend, bringing in $1,000, which will go toward the American Red Cross.

She said in less than a week, 11 benefit dance classes were held throughout the Puget Sound area, raising almost $2,500 for mudslide relief efforts.

Osborne said one of the main focuses of Nia is to heal. This could mean using various movements to heal one’s body, or holding a benefit class to heal a community.

“It’s like prayer,” she said.

For a list of upcoming Nia benefit classes in the area, visit www.niaseattle.com/events.

SoulFood CoffeeHouse at 15748 Redmond Way will be holding a benefit event tonight from 8-10 p.m. The event will feature musicians Clint McCune, Betsy Tinney and Geli Wuerzner.

Donations — both financial as well as supplies — will go to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation Disaster Relief. A Reporter calendar entry reads that “There is also a call out for Shell Gas Gift Cards (gas for chainsaws), Costco and Fred Meyer Gift Cards.”


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