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Search for missing persons in Washington landslide continues

One community in Washington is trying to pick up the pieces from a massive landslide.
One community in Washington is trying to pick up the pieces from a massive landslide.

Over the weekend, the hillside community of Oso, Washington endured the impact of a massive landslide, one that destroyed homes, cabins and RVs. Although the landslide only covers one square mile, about 176 remain missing. As of Wednesday, the death count stands at 16, with a likely possibility that the figure will grow, Fox News reported.

"We didn't locate anybody alive," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots told FOX. "We haven't lost hope that there's a possibility that we can find somebody alive in some pocket area."

Steady rainfall made the ground unstable to drive and walk around. Some neighborhoods in Oso are covered by 15 feet of mud and rubble. When conditions are this bad, it can take a person five minutes to walk 40 or 50 feet, Hots added.

To the rest of the United States, this may sound like an unlikely natural disaster, but for those living in this part of Washington state, they have heard multiple warnings, USA Today explained. Despite the "high risk" of a landslide, it is unclear if Oso or neighboring towns drafted a continuity of operations plan to mitigate these concerns.

"This entire year we have pushed message after message that there's a high risk of landslides," John Pennington, director of Snohomish County Emergency Management told the news source. "The dangers and the risks are known."

Members from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington Army National Guard and 200 other responders will be entering a sixth day of search and rescue operations. The challenge that's ahead of them includes finding survivors in rubble that endured another round of rainfall on Wednesday.

These types of challenges may not happen on a consistent basis, but it is pertinent to create some type of action plan to respond to these situations. Business continuity consultants can help companies and communities work on these strategies far in advance.