As rain keeps falling, Oso residents’ concerns about another slide grow

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OSO, Wash. — All this wet weather has people living near the March 22 Oso mudslide on edge.

Their concerns are now focused on a new part of State Route 530 — and a hillside they say could tumble onto the roadway, again.

Family members of some of the slide victims worry the state is ignoring their concerns.

“There’s been slides on that hill before,” neighbor Melissa Pendergrass said.

Downed trees, moving earth — it happened just a few days ago

And it`s a frightening reminder of what happened here 6 1/2 months ago.

Neighbors worry that new slides could endanger others driving along SR 530.

But the Washington State Department of Transportation says both the highway and the hill just to the south of the road are safe.

“That hillside is actually a lot more stable now than it was during the actual event itself,” WSDOT’s Travis Phelps said Thursday.

Dug into the hill are 25 drains, each running 150 feet.

Add in the planned landscaping, and highway officials say it`s enough to keep the road and the hill safe.

"Very, very, very low likelihood of anything happening," Phelps said. "If there was, we have folks on the ground there, licensed geologists who can take a look at that hillside. You`re going to get warnings on that well before anything gets moving."

"The DOT officials have failed to listen to us once again," said Dayn Bruner, who lost her sister in the March 22 mudslide.

Bruner wants WSDOT to build a retaining wall along this hillside. He worries the state`s efforts aren`t enough to stop another slide.

"They shaved off basically the trees and vegetation that held stuff there and put down some pit run and a little bit of rock and then put mulch on it. They`ve ended up putting four rounds of mulch on it because it keeps washing away," Bruner said.

And just across the hill sit 43 trees -- one for each person who perished in the 530 slide.

One was planted in Bruner`s sister`s honor.

Summer Raffo died when her car on SR 530 was engulfed by mud and debris on March 22.

Burner wants the state to take stronger measures here so the victim`s memorial won`t meet the same fate as its victims.

"We need to preserve that. We need to make sure we`re moving forward and not moving backwards," Bruner said.

WSDOT says proper drainage is the key to keeping the hill stable -- and they`re not considering installing a retaining wall.

But the folks who live out here say the real test will be how this project stands up to the rest of this rainy season.

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