by: Natasha Chen Updated:
ARLINGTON, Wash. - On Monday morning, Snohomish County officials will announce a plan to end the active search of the Oso mudslide that blocked state Route 530 and killed dozens of people more than a month ago.
Two people remain missing in the debris.
While a spokesperson for the Snohomish County executive would not confirm the timing of those plans, people working at the Arlington base camp Sunday night said they were told of at least one more push in the search Monday before scaling down.
Monday’s press briefing will discuss the transition to a passive search. The statement said that heavy equipment operators will begin to remove debris, as spotters in the field will work to identify personal property that may still be in the slide zone.
One of the missing people, Steve Hadaway, was installing a satellite dish for a new resident on Steelhead Drive when the mudslide hit.
His brother, John Hadaway, told KIRO 7 he will return to Darrington next weekend to continue searching, regardless of the official status of the search.
“We know that they don’t need 400 people out there to look for two people. Reality tells you that weather permits, that that makes it hard. It really does. And we understand that,” Hadaway said.
But he also said he knows some Snohomish County search teams are likely to stay there.
“This is not over until it’s over,” he said.
Hadaway predicts his brother will be the last one found. He said Steve Hadaway had a heart the size of Mt. Everest and always put others first.
Still, the process of waiting and searching for more than a month has taken a toll.
“It’s just numb. You know, the seconds, minutes, days go by, and the weeks go by. But you have this little section in the corner that never moves,” Hadaway said.
The other person still missing is Kris Regelbrugge, a resident of Steelhead Drive.
Neighbors told KIRO 7 her grown children are still in the slide zone searching for her. Her husband John was found dead.
Search crews at the Arlington base camp said they understand the decision to wind down the active search must be tough.
“People are tired, but you know, we want to be able to bring some sort of hope and healing and start the recovery process,” said Luke Wigle, a disaster specialist with the Washington Conservation Corps.
Wigle has been at both the Darrington and Arlington command center since the end of March. He said he could not imagine being in the position of the two families still looking for their relatives.
Another crew supervisor with the Washington Conservation Corps, Jesse Rogers, said his group started to pick up items originally brought into the slide zone, like pumps, hoses and generators.
“There are lots of boards that just have spray paint with directions or drop zones,” Rogers said.
Even with the clean-up efforts starting, and the official announcement Monday, volunteers said they hope the community knows they still have full support in their long road ahead.
Rogers said he was told, “If they were to go through and take out all the debris, it would be years and years and years to get out all the pieces of the homes, and the cars and boats.”