Sen. Cantwell pushes to improve emergency response ahead of 10-year anniversary of Oso landslide

Ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the deadly Oso landslide, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is pushing to improve the emergency response to landslides nationwide.

Cantwell and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bill last week to reauthorize the National Landslide Preparedness Act for 10 years, through 2034.

Cantwell says the legislation aims to help save lives and improve natural disaster emergency preparedness by targeting key gaps in science and mapping to understand landslide hazards.

"Since we passed this bill, federal agencies have improved mapping technologies and gained a better understanding of the landslide risks facing our communities," Sen. Cantwell said. "Now, nearly a decade since the devastating Oso landslide, and as more wildfires and atmospheric river events make landslides more likely, we must reauthorize and update these federal programs to help keep communities safe."

March 2024 will mark the one-year anniversary of the 2014 Oso landslide, which took the lives of 43 people and devastated a Washington community.

Cantwell first introduced the National Landslide Preparedness Act in November 2020, and it was signed into law in January 2021.

This legislation would reauthorize the legislation, which includes:

  • Expanding existing early warning systems for post-wildfire landslides in recently burned areas across the U.S.
  • Creating a new federal program focused on landslide hazards through the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to protect at-risk communities
  • Directing USGS through its 3D elevation program to develop new maps to help communities prepare for landslide risk
  • Authorizing new landslide-related grant programs for state, territorial, local, and tribal governments

Landslides kill 25 to 50 people and cause billions of dollars in damages each year in the U.S., and these statistics are expected to worsen because of climate change.

Learn more about landslides through the U.S. Geological Survey here.

Fox 13 Seattle will have a one-hour special airing next month: 10 years since the Oso landslide. Stay tuned for updates.