Mudslide prompts evacuation near Arlington

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

Arlington, WA - A mudslide blocked the Stillaguamish River east of Arlington Saturday and covered part of Highway 530. It killed three people and at least eight others had to be rescued.  Six homes were either damaged or swept away by tons of mud and trees. 

Paulo Falcao was driving to Darrington to pick up his kids when the slide happened right in front of his vehicle.  He said, "I was coming down the hill, I just saw the darkness, like somebody wanted to grab you and everything was gone in like three seconds."  Falcao hit his brakes and got out.  He heard a woman and baby screaming.  They were among those rescued. 

Searchers will continue to look for survivors Sunday.

The continuing threat is the mud still blocking the Stillaguamish River.  The water level behind it is rising, and there are fears that the new earthen dam will break. 

Lt. Rodney Rochon is with the Snohomish County Sheriff's office. He said, "Not knowing when this wall of water is getting ready to come downriver, the best thing to do is get your family out of the area."

Jim Anderson heeded that warning.  He moved 120 head of beef cattle to higher ground Saturday night, before his farm could flood. Anderson said, "We don't know what we're up against yet, but there's something coming."

The National Weather Service has been watching river flows.  It predicts that catastrophic flooding is unlikely and that any flooding that does occur will be localized in the Oso area, just downriver from the slide.