Healing the youngest hearts broken in the Oso slide
DARRINGTON, Wash. -- The activity at the Darrington fire department starts before dawn; fresh crews arriving for duty, some from hundreds of miles away. They gear up and head west to the slide site, to replace crews who've been out there for days.
And now 11 days into this disaster, we learn that crews have been able to search just a fraction of the area the mud and debris now encompass.
There are large machines out there moving masses of earth, while people spotters stand by carefully looking for discoveries. But really much of the work is done by hand.
It's a process, establishing pathways for firefighters and volunteers to move across the landscape. The Stillaguamish River is still an issue and now crews are trying to keep it flowing to reduce flooding.
While work goes on out there, in town people find ways to cope.
"Everybody is affected," said April Kettelson.
Kettelson, known for the Tarheel Pie she cooks up at the IGA, is really seeing the toll it's taking on kids. She teaches Sunday school at Glad Tidings Assembly of God and on Sunday, when she invited her little ones to join in open prayer, she said even a kindergartner stood up to say how sad she is, knowing one of her friends is gone forever.
Then April thought the kids could benefit from an idea a colleague at IGA came up with. Inside the store, there are hearts cut out for people to leave your sentiments. The new display is called "On Angel's Wings."
The kids loved it.
"The big kids got to make sandwiches and bag lunches you know for the crews that are down there," Kettelson said. "The little kids wanted to do something so this is their contribution to the community."
Once they started filling them and learned where the hearts would go, they became very excited to make a difference of their own.
"You could see the excitement learning they too could make a difference," Kettelson said.
Their messages are simple. Love people, help people. Hope.
April says the impact is truly huge.
"It will help the children heal," she said. "One of the kids who's just having a real tough time; she actually came down and helped me hang them up and felt better. You know you could see the change, that a burden had been lifted. She felt like she had done something for her friends."
The healing will be slow, but April says she's confident this community will be OK.
"God has a bigger plan for this community," she said.
For now they'll continue to lean on each other and help one another through this hellish time.