Funding secured to build a permanent memorial commemorating the historic Oso Slide
OSO, Wash. - Snohomish County Council approved $4.8 million in the 2022 budget to secure the last piece of funding needed to build a permanent memorial commemorating the Oso Slide.
On March 22, 2014, 43 people were killed after a landslide devoured an entire subdivision. It was the deadliest landslide in U.S. history.
"This was a horrific event and it was a tremendous effort. There were so many people involved regionally," said Tom Teigen, director of the Snohomish County Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The slide marked the beginning of a tragic story along Highway 530 in Oso. Now with funding secured to build a permanent memorial, a new chapter will soon be written, and hopefully provide some healing for those who were impacted.
"It’s going to tell a story and it’s going to tell everybody what happened. It’s going to tell everybody about the community. It’s going to tell everybody about everybody that was involved," said John Hadaway, whose brother Steven was killed in the landslide.
For more than seven years, a shrine has been growing along Highway 530. Trees were planted to honor the 43 lives lost. Loved ones created a website to educate the public about the historic event. They have also been fundraising and securing grants to build a permanent memorial, but it wasn’t enough money. Now with the county’s help, their long-awaited dream of a monument will soon become reality.
"A long-lasting memorial for the 43 lives, 11 survivors of what went on that day. And the people that go out there—family members that were out there in that mess searching for their loved ones and they’re there, they can add to the story," said Hadaway.
Designs plans for the permanent memorial are available online. When finished, it will honor the victims, survivors, first responders and volunteers from that fateful day.
"Some days it feels like it was yesterday, some days it feels like it was forever ago," said Hadaway.
"This has really been critical to their healing," said Teigen.
Teigen said the memorial creation process started about five months after the landslide.
"People understood very quickly within months of this happening how important it was going to be to not only honor the lives, but make sure that we remember and talk about the geology of the site, we talk about the response to the site, the heroics of individuals and first responders. And then really valuing those lives lost and honoring those people and their families," said Teigen.
Teigen mentioned the National Park Service contacted his office offering guidance on the memorial. He said he was also contacted by organizations involved in other significant memorials of very tragic incidents, including 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing and the Columbine High School massacre.
"We’ve been really lucky to have, number one: big political support, number two: families that really cared about us and really invested their time and energy and love, and number three: all kinds of other folks that have come alongside to help us plan this."
"Many, many meetings, many tears, quite a few yelling matches, but it’s all worth it. It’s just all worth it," said Hadaway.
Teigen said the construction of the memorial will start in the spring of 2022. He further mentioned the project is expected to finish by the fall of 2023. It will be done just in time for the 10-year commemorative ceremony in March 2024.
"The legacies of each person will be there for life," said Hadaway. "It’s a very sad story. But this is something that they can’t do, so we as family members and the community that’s what we will do."
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Oso landslide memorial approved by Snohomish County
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