President Obama visits Oso landslide


by KING 5 News

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 23 at 2:58 AM

President Barack Obama took an aerial tour of the Oso landslide on Tuesday afternoon, one month to the day that a landslide killed at least 41 people. The president then headed to the firehouse in Oso to meet with families and first responders.

In remarks after that meeting, Pres. Obama praised first responders and assured families that help will continue.

"Just to let you know that the country is thinking about all of you and have been throughout this tragedy," said Obama. "We're not going anywhere."

WATCH: Oso victims’ families meet with President Obama

"We'll be here as long as it takes because while very few Americans had heard of Oso before the disaster struck, we've all be inspired by the incredible way that the community has come together and shown the love and support that they have for each other in ways large and small,” he said.

The president arrived at Paine Field in Everett just after 12:40 p.m. and boarded Marine One.

An American flag flew above SR 530. Steve Bradley installed the flag in preparation for the president's visit.

"Out of respect and honor," he said.

"He's coming to Oso, and with all the victims and all the people that this has affected, this is a big thing," he said.

At Paine Field, the president was greeted by a large group of state and federal politicians, including Gov. Jay Inslee, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen, Everett mayor Ray Stephanson and Jon Lovick, Snohomish County executive

Pres. Obama took a helicopter tour of the debris field, and then landed in Arlington and traveled via motorcade to Oso.

People lined the route to Oso, waving and snapping photos of the motorcade. A couple waved massive American flags.

Signs along the road displayed different messages, including "God bless Oso families" and "Thank you for your prayers and support."

A pick-up truck in a front yard was covered in football memorabilia and signs bearing the name of Jovan Mangual, a teenager who died in the disaster.‎

The president visited with victims, emergency responders and government workers.

The president met privately at the Oso Community Chapel with families who lost loved ones in the slide.

The Snohomish County medical examiner's office identified Stephen Harris, 52, and his wife Teresa, 53, Tuesday as the latest victims. The couple lived in Edmonds but had a cabin in Oso.

Steven Hadaway, 53, and Molly Kristine “Kris” Regelbrugge, 44, remain on the missing list.

Related: Oso prepares for a visit from the president

"The activity that's going on is less, so (Obama) won't be disrupting any activity as far as recovery effort," said Oso Fire Chief Willie Harper. "If he would have been here that first week, it would have been a major concern because everything gets shut down when he comes in. So, I believe his timing is absolutely perfect."

Fire District 25 sits empty for most of the year, but it is now a bustling hub of activity. But the volunteer department could be facing serious financial issues. The Steelhead Drive neighborhood that was wiped out made up half of the tax revenue that funded the department.

"The immediate future is going to be OK for the fire department itself. Our concerns right now are for the family members, trying to get them homes and land. But looking down the road, it will be a concern," said Harper.