Pres. Obama visits Oso, meets families, responders


by KING 5 News, Gannett Affiliate

Posted on April 23, 2014 at 10:37 AM

President Barack Obama took an aerial tour of the Oso landslide on Tuesday afternoon, one month to the day that a landslide killed at least 41 people.

The president met privately with families of the victims, then headed to the firehouse in Oso to meet with first responders and those involved in the recovery.

In remarks at the firehouse, Pres. Obama praised first responders and assured families that help will continue.

"Just to let you know that the country is thinking about all of you and have been throughout this tragedy," he said. "We're not going anywhere."

"We'll be here as long as it takes because while very few Americans had heard of Oso before the disaster struck, we've all be inspired by the incredible way that the community has come together and shown the love and support that they have for each other in ways large and small,” he said.

"This is family and these are folks that love this land and it’s easy to see why, because it’s gorgeous,” he said. “And there’s a way of life here that’s represented. And to see the strength in adversity of this community I think should inspire all of us because this is also what America is all about. When times get tough we look out for each other, we get each other’s backs and we recover and we build and we come back stronger and we’re always reminded that we’re greater together.”

Pres. Obama said the families he met with showed “incredible strength and grace through unimaginable pain and difficulty.”

He made a point of mentioning the fact that local, state and federal responders coordinated with volunteers.

“I know that it required some improvisation and some kinks getting worked out but it was important to the family members themselves and the community themselves to be hands-on and participate in this process, particularly in a community like this where folks are hardy, know how to do things and take great pride in being self-reliant,” he said.

He said a firefighter from the community had written to him and said that the people working on the site “understood this was not an ordinary job. This wasn’t just a matter of moving earth.”

“This was a matter of making sure we were honoring and respecting the lives that had been impacted,” the president said.

The president arrived at Paine Field in Everett just after 12:40 p.m. and boarded Marine One.

An American flag flew above SR 530. Steve Bradley installed the flag in preparation for the president's visit.

"Out of respect and honor," he said.

"He's coming to Oso, and with all the victims and all the people that this has affected, this is a big thing," he said.

At Paine Field, the president was greeted by a large group of state and federal politicians, including Gov. Jay Inslee, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen, Everett mayor Ray Stephanson and Jon Lovick, Snohomish County executive

Pres. Obama took a helicopter tour of the debris field, and then landed in Arlington and traveled via motorcade to Oso.

People lined the route to Oso, waving and snapping photos of the motorcade. A couple waved massive American flags.

Signs along the road displayed different messages, including "God bless Oso families" and "Thank you for your prayers and support."

A pick-up truck in a front yard was covered in football memorabilia and signs bearing the name of Jovan Mangual, a teenager who died in the disaster.‎

The Snohomish County medical examiner's office identified Stephen Harris, 52, and his wife Teresa, 53, Tuesday as the latest victims. The couple lived in Edmonds but had a cabin in Oso.

Steven Hadaway, 53, and Molly Kristine “Kris” Regelbrugge, 44, remain on the missing list.

Related: Oso prepares for a visit from the president