National Guard Searcher Describes ‘Sifting’ Through Crushed House

By Austin Jenkins

The Washington National Guard has now deployed two Blackhawk helicopters to the Oso landslide. On the ground, specially-trained search teams Wednesday looked for victims in the mud and debris. Correspondent Austin Jenkins spoke to one of the National Guard searchers.

Washington National Guard searchers are assisting in the effort to locate victims of the Oso landslide in Snohomish County. Photo Credit: Washington National GuardMaster Sgt. Chris Martin called me on a cell phone after spending the better part of his day searching a single house caught in the path of the landslide.

Chris Martin: “It’s pretty much flattened and then encased in mud and has trees inter-strewn amongst it.”

Martin says some 50 National Guard, fire department and volunteer searchers swarmed this one house often on their hands and knees using hand tools.

Chris Martin: “It’s very muddy and soupy. If you can kind of imagine concrete before it sets is what it’s like.”

Martin says his team did not find a victim on this initial search. But they’ll be back out there again. Asked if this is a mission impossible he says no. Martin previously deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the National Guard. He says it feels good to help fellow Washingtonians for a change.

Photo: Washington National Guard searchers are assisting in the effort to locate victims of the Oso landslide in Snohomish County. Photo Credit: Washington National Guard

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