President Obama to visit scene of deadly Oso mudslide

OSO, Wash. - President Obama will travel to Oso later this month to view the devastation from the recent mudslide and meet with the families affected by this disaster, officials confirmed.

White House officials said the president also plans to meet with first responders and recovery workers at the scene of the deadly landslide. The presidential visit is planned for April 22.

"This will give the president the opportunity to see firsthand the devastation wrought by the slide as well as the incredible community spirit flourishing in Oso, Arlington and Darrington," said Gov. Jay Inslee.

"From the earliest days following the slide, the president has closely monitored events in the area and shown his concerns for the victims and their families. He and his team have been important partners in the response effort, and I believe this visit will strengthen those ties as we face the tough work ahead."

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, who represents the area affected by the mudslide, said Obama called her Tuesday morning to tell her of his planned visit.

"I think his visit shows the signs of a commitment from the federal government, but also how devastating this tragedy really was," DelBene said. "I'm happy that he's coming out to see this for himself (and) to meet with the people who have been impacted."

The news of the president's planned visit came as the death toll from the mudslide rose to 34, with the addition of one more person to the number of victims.

The Snohomish County medical examiner's office said Tuesday it is still working to identify four of the dead.

The county sheriff's office has said a dozen people remain missing from the March 22 slide that buried homes along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

Searchers with dogs continue to probe the debris field as the Corps of Engineers builds a berm to reduce flooding.

Work started Monday on the Darrington or east side of the slide with about 300 feet of gravel. When it's completed next week, the 2,000 foot-long berm will act like a levee along the river, said Cameron Satterfield, a spokesman at the joint information center in Arlington. It will allow the corps to pump out a flooded area of about 34 acres so it can be searched for bodies.

Teams of rescue or cadaver dogs from all over the country have been helping search the huge pile of tumbled mud, broken trees and house debris.
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