Displaced animals not forgotten by landslide residents

ARLINGTON, Wash. -- While authorities are organized to search the Oso debris pile for people, it's been left up to valley residents to organize help for the animals that have been displaced by the landslide.

The Co-Op Supply in Arlington is agreeing to accept donations on the Arlington end of the slide, while the Rodeo Grounds in Darrington when manned by volunteers is operating as an animal supply resource for the Darrington side.

"We are getting calls from all over the country asking how they can help," says Zeek Maier, branch manager for Co-Op Supply. "We will get the donations where they need to go."

Currently there is a need for hay, feed and bedding for horses in Darrington says Alex Blakey. She's not only helping out people in need of supplies but also taking care of 21 horses that no longer have an owner. Summer Raffo died when the mudslide hit her vehicle on Highway 530.

"I broke down this morning because its been so overwhelming," says Blakey who was good friends with Raffo and a horse person herself. "It hasn't really sunk in yet that she's gone."

Blakey has been spending her days searching the debris pile for survivors and taking care of horses in the valley. The road closure is hampering transportation of hay.

"Even in Darrington, local residents that weren't right next to the slide are having a hard time just getting hay for their animals because they don't have route that is as fast and efficient as we had before," says Blakey.

That's where volunteers like Chris Rehkopf are stepping in, agreeing to haul hay around the 100 mile, two hour detour from the Arlington Co-Op to the Darrington Rodeo Grounds.

"I can't go out and dig, I can't run an excavator, but I can do this, this is what I do," says Rehkopf as she ties down bales on donated hay on a trailer. "Everybody pulls together up there, everybody does what they can and I can drive."