ARLINGTON, Wash. — After nearly a week of searching for landslide victims, crew members still haven’t given up hope.
“You just never know, there could still be survivors out there waiting to be rescued,” Matt Ingison said.
Ingison grew up about 25 miles from the slide and knew immediately that he wanted to help.
He began volunteering on Monday, and hours later, discovered a woman’s body.
A week later, the memory is still fresh.
“We all took our hats off. There was a moment of silence,” he remembered. “It just gets real quiet, real quiet out there. Then after a short period of time, it’s right back to work.”
For many searching the Oso landslide zone, the work is personal. Ingison says the mental health counselors are working as tirelessly as they are, helping crew members process emotions so they can continue to focus on the very physical labor before them.
“Just because it wasn’t [my family member] doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings for that person and their family,” Ingison said.
No one expects the work to end anytime soon. Authorities continue to report the reality that some victims may never be found.
Ingison’s now helping at the Oso Fire Station, taking in donations and coordinating. They’ve received thousands of requests from people asking to help search, he says, but they’ve had to turn many away because of the danger that still exists.
“Those 10,000 people are going to be liabilities themselves,” Ingison said.
For Ingison, the week’s pushed him to the feeling of utter devastation and pulled him to the exact opposite experience of inspiration and camaraderie.
He will never forget the way complete strangers have become family amid indescribable tragedy.
“This is my community. I grew up here,” he said. “I felt like I needed to help out.”