FEMA is scheduled pull out of Oso this weekend, marking the end of a near month-long presence in Snohomish County. It’s something many consider to be a turning point in the aftermath of the March 22 landslide.
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Although disaster relief tents will be torn down, families impacted by the slide will be able to apply for financial assistance through June. A disaster information center is now open in Darrington for families to sign up for financial aid.
"It’s not the start of a new chapter. It’s the start of a new book," said Darrington mayor Dan Rankin.
Rankin has shifted his role to full-time mayor as he seeks to prevent his small mountain town from economic trouble following the deadly landslide.
Highway 530 has been closed since the slide, virtually cutting the town off from traffic just before the busy recreation season.
"We are making a road map for our future," he said. "We will be OK. This is a tough town."
Rankin is working with community leaders in Oso and Arlington to attract small business and recreational opportunities to keep the towns alive.
In another milestone, IMCO General Construction, based in Ferndale, is now contracting with the Washington State Department of Transportation to begin removing dirt and debris from the slide site. Excavation will begin Friday and is expected to take months before Highway 530 can be re-opened.
A FEMA helpline is still available for affected families: 800-621-3362.