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Washington deadly mudslide: 25-foot-tall wall of mud described by survivors

The Washington deadly mudslide on Saturday morning was a “harrowing scene” when a hillside broke apart and a 25-foot-tall wall of mud buried several homes, people, and devoured everything in its path. "I heard this roar, and it was huge. I never heard anything like that,” said Robin Youngblood according to a March 23 The Seattle Times report.

Washington deadly mudslide: 25-foot-tall wall of mud described by survivors
MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

“I looked out the window, and I saw this huge wall of mud – must have been 25 feet tall. We went moving, and we were tumbled. I had a mouth full of mud, and nose full of it. We were under everything and we had to dig our way out.”

The Washington deadly mudslide buried about one square mile of State Route 530 near the town of Oso, about 55 miles north of Seattle, and has killed eight people, injured dozens, and many are still unaccounted for. Experts believe that the mudslide was due to recent heavy rains that had made the ground unstable. The chances for survivors are diminishing by the hour, but search and rescue crews are not giving up hope of finding anyone that might be trapped in a house or in a car underneath the as much as 15-foot-deep mud.

Eyewitnesses describe the slide in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains along the Stillaguamish River as an initial roaring crack.

On Saturday morning around 11 a.m., 63-year-old Robin Youngblood was sitting in her living room with a friend from the Netherlands when she first heard the loud crack. As she looked out the window, she saw “half of a 2,000-foot-high foothill break away and surge across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River toward her house on the opposite bank,” according to The Seattle Times report.

“A wall of mud she estimated to be 25 feet high crashed through the home, taking both Youngblood and her friend Jetty Dooper, with it.”

“Then it hit and we were rolling,” said Youngblood. “The house was in sticks. We were buried under things and we dug ourselves out.”

Other survivors of the Washington deadly mudslide also describe hearing the roaring crack first and then watching as the 25-foot-tall wall of mud came crashing down on them dragging trees, branches, cars, and parts of houses with it. One eyewitness, who was driving on the roadway, said that he was able to avoid the mudslide by quickly stepping on his brake. “I just saw the darkness coming across the road. Everything was gone in three seconds.”