Levee must be finished before Oso crews can search area for bodies

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Crews are racing to build an emergency berm in the Oso landslide so they can search under several feet of water for the 10 people still missing.

The Army Corps of Engineers was called in to build a temporary berm blocking the water. Crews started a few days ago.

They have built about 600 feet of the 2,000-foot rock wall, but the water can’t be pumped out until the wall is complete, which will take a few more days.

Most of the southeast corner of the slide is still under about 7 feet of water, and the levee is critical to recovery teams because search dogs are picking up scents indicating that there are human remains in the area.

Only after the water is pumped out will crews be able to finally search the area on foot, which is why the work is considered an emergency.

"We want to get the search done as quickly as possible to allow people to recover their family members, so we felt the best and the quickest way to do this would be to build the temporary berm,” said Owen Carter with Snohomish County Public Works.

There’s also a concern about flooding in the slide zone as mountain snow continues to melt.

Water levels rose a foot overnight and the berm will help control levels and the river’s flow.

Once the work is done, the rock in the berm will be used to help rebuild Highway 530.

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