Neighbors evacuate flood zone along with horses, keepsakes

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by ALISON MORROW / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @AlisonMorrowTV

KING5.com

Posted on March 22, 2014 at 10:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 9:46 AM

Neighbors residing in the flood zone near the 530 mudslide spent Saturday afternoon packing up their animals and heading to higher ground.

A notice of potential catastrophic flooding was released by Snohomish County due to the river back-up behind the mudslide debris field.

The Stillaguamish River level remained low Saturday night, with rocks in its river bed visible, which residents call extremely rare.

“When it lets go, they don’t really know what’s going to happen,” explained Freddy Aston.

Aston and her friends loaded up her horses and tried to load up three stubborn mini-donkeys, in order to move them to higher ground.

The donkeys refused the trailer, so they’ll stay behind with a pig, geese, and chicken.

“It’d be nice to get everybody out and not have to worry, but I think overall, we’re going to be fine,” Aston said.

Evacuating the flood zone meant choosing what would stay and what could go.

Walt Schoenbachler chose the 1971 Ford Torino he bought as a 15-year old.

“I think it could be horrendous. I think it could take out bridges,” said his friend, Dan Hodgen. “It’s not a water event. It’s a debris event. It’s scary. It’s something that’s never happened in my lifetime.”

Not everyone chose to evacuate. Washington State law gives residents the choice to stay during an evacuation.

Gary Moffett, a former Oso firefighter, calls his community an extremely close-knit set of friends. He planned to stay behind to help them.

“I’ve got a neighbor who left his place. He lives over behind the fire hall – a lot closer to the river - I told him if anything happened, I’d give him a call,” Moffett said.

There is a siren on top of the Oso fire station that will sound an alarm if the river breaks through the dam and a flash flood is imminent. The station is currently flying its American flag at half-staff in honor of those who died in the mudslide.
 

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