Landslide volunteers honored with poem

DARRINGTON, Wash. -- A new day in Darrington means another day of hard work for both rescuers and volunteers, but many of those volunteers feel refreshed through a poem, which was posted online Tuesday night.

The poem has been circulating through social media and on flyers in Darrington, and it's making volunteers truly feel appreciated.

The local food bank, which run mostly by volunteers, has been open every day since the devastating slide hit on March 22. Under normal circumstances the bank would be open twice a week.

Ray Coleman barely stopped to chat as he loaded up the bed of his pickup with diapers and other baby supplies to shuttle across town to the kids' center.

"It's just a tragic week," he said.

Inside the food bank, volunteers work to put away the latest donations that came in the night before.

"This town's come together you wouldn't believe," George Green said as he categorized produce.

Green, wearing his Korean War Veteran hat, admits he's exhausted. He's opened up every morning about 7 a.m., and in the past 10 days he hasn't gone home at night until he feels he can't walk anymore.

But he's not complaining -- he's happy to help right along with the others.

"We've been here serving everybody that we could didn't matter who they were or where they come from if they come for food we give it to them," he said.

It's not easy work, but the day of the slide the workers knew they'd have to start feeding people right away. They sent food over to the funeral dinner committee, who started cooking right away. And they knew families would be in for help putting food on their tables at home.

"Thank God for the kids in this town because we wouldn't have made it here without them," Coleman said.

They're all thankful for the young backs and muscles of the high school students who've pitched in as well, unloading large shipments with human chains and lifting boxes too heavy for these retired men.

Francis Ames gets just one day off a week from work, and she spends it volunteering at the Food Bank. She also uses the food bank herself. The 530 slide cut her route to work as it did with so many others. She works full time, but with the price of gas and the extra miles, she still can't make ends meet.

This is why Richard Anderson says he really fears being forgotten here. Once the donations trickle and the weeks pass, he said the need will still be here and he certainly hopes the generous hearts continue.

But for now they'll work in the present and take comfort in this poem:

In a sleepy little valley there was such roar,
A slide in a size we had never seen before.

The next thing that happened brought me to tears,
Men, women and children who sign up as volunteers.

Not to be heroes or to make amends,
Just relentlessly searching for our families and friends.

Now we hear the roar of saws and machines,
sifting through the remnants of our loved one's dreams.

From the Mt. Loop Hwy to the sight of the slide,
this valley now echoes with Darrington Pride