Feds study deadly Oso landslide, help communities better prepare for natural disasters

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OSO, Wash. -- From devastating floods to deadly landslides, it is not a matter of "if," but "when" another natural disaster will hit western Washington.

So what can we do better now to be ready? Lawmakers and environmental experts are studying the deadly Oso landslide to try to answer that question.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who is from the Pacific Northwest, toured the site where 43 people lost their lives along Highway 530.

"It is heartbreaking to see the pictures of children and moms and dads, it's tough," said Jewell. "This is an incredibly important spot, and the devastation that took place was beyond imagination."

Alongside Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, the interior secretary is working with geologists and experts to determine what can be learned from this tragedy.

Specifically, funding research that can help communities prepare for natural disasters and ultimately save lives.

"With that, hopefully risk-wise, decisions can be made about keeping people out of harm's way," said USGS landslide expert Jonathan Godt.

"We also have a responsibility to prepare for the things we know will happen, like earthquakes in this area," said Jewell.

To highlight this, Secretary Jewell and Representative DelBene joined kids at the Oso Fire Station for the Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill. It's about being prepared for the unpredictable and ready to react.