National Guard called in three days after deadly Oso slide

by: Essex Porter Updated:

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Near ARLINGTON, Wash. —

Snohomish County didn’t make an official request for help from the Washington National Guard until three days after the deadly Oso mudslide.

Commanding Gen. Bret Daugherty says the request came Tuesday morning and his troops were on the scene by Tuesday evening.

Asked if he was surprised the request from Snohomish County didn’t come sooner, Maj. Gen. Daugherty said, “You know not really. I don't want to get into the business of being an armchair quarterback. I know that (Department of Emergency Management's) John Pennington and (Snohomish Fire Chief Travis) Hots are two of the best emergency managers that we have in this state.”

Daugherty said, at first, it was difficult to know the magnitude of the disaster. ” You know I think there was a lot of fog out there, we weren't really sure the scope of this incident. I think that's true of the folks up there in Snohomish County as well.”

Daugherty said he ordered his troops to get ready to help as soon as he learned about the mudslide on Saturday morning. However, deployment of the National Guard is governed by strict laws that make sure the military stays under civilian control. 

An emergency proclamation by the governor is a necessary first step.  It was signed late Saturday night.

The next step is an official request from the local government that needs aid.  Snohomish County made an informal request for aid on Monday evening, Daugherty said, and made it official on Tuesday morning.

“Candidly, you don't want to call out those resources until you absolutely need them,” said Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington.

 While many who live near Oso wanted the Guard there sooner, Daugherty says his troops would not have been able to help on Saturday night because conditions in the slide zone were too dangerous.