DARRINGTON, Wash. — Nestled in the Stillaguamish valley, the town of Darrington is used to fending for itself.
When the fire hall needs coffee, the local IGA picks up the tab. The store owner says customers have handed him more than 1200 dollars in donations.
“Folks in small communities are ‘let’s get it done’ type people,” said Randy Ashe. “You know, we know what needs to be done.”
But the loss and devastation would test the toughest souls. Add to that the newcomers and the media scrutiny.
“If you’re helping, great. If you’re not, get out of the way and let us do what we need to do,” said Elizabeth Kandt, a 17-year Darrington resident.
At the community center, a group of locals cooks meals for anyone who needs one, with food volunteers provide.
“We do this all the time,” said Diane Boyd, a community center board member. “We are set up. We have equipment. People know what they’re doing.”
It’s a sentiment you hear a lot in this town of 1,300, a pride in who they are and in providing for themselves.
But just below the surface is a brimming frustration with bureaucracy. Many declined to talk about it; others like Shari Brewer share it freely.
“What we were getting on Sunday was ‘Are you civilians? What are you doing down here?’” said Brewer. “That was truly frustrating.”
Brewer has a forestry and construction business. She says their excavator was finally allowed to help with the search Tuesday. She wishes it would have been allowed sooner.
“It’s helping to feel like you’re part of something,” said Brewer. “It’s part of working through the grief process, because this is horrendous. This is going to be for a long time”
Emergency personnel and government agencies did not allowed locals to help in the search initially because they said it was just too dangerous. Several dozen locals were finally allowed to help in the search Tuesday.
That’s what Darrington residents want. They appreciate the help from others. But they also want to be allowed to help themselves.