SEATTLE – Audio recordings of 911 calls made in the moments after a massive, deadly mudslide struck the tiny Washington state town of Oso ranged from a frantic woman who reported people screaming for help to a caller who described her amazement that the landslide had pushed a house all the way across a highway.
Search crews using dogs, bulldozers and their bare hands have been slogging through the mess of broken wood and mud as the death toll continues to climb from Saturday's mudslide about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.
Many callers sounded calm as they reported on the "massive landslide" and said people were trapped underneath homes that had been reduced to rubble.
One female caller reported flooding, downed power lines and a complete blockage of State Route 530. Midway through her report she pauses and in a drawn-out manner says, "Holy crap."
A man called to report his neighbors were trapped on their property at the end of a dead-end street near the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. "They have no way to escape," he said. "The river's literally starting to flood down in that area and it's only going to get worse."
Another man said several neighboring houses had been "taken completely out and it's collapsed on several of them and they're trapped." He said he could hear people tapping and "yelling at us."
A woman sounding frantic told 911, "Everything's gone. The houses are gone." She said she could see people and that they were yelling. "I got people here screaming for help," she said. "There's a person in the middle of the mud."
She said she watched hundreds of trees "come falling down." The slide stopped 100 feet from her house, she said.
"All I see is dirt," she added.
Another woman who called said, "Oh yeah, man, I got a big emergency. There has been a huge landslide and it has pushed the house all the way across the road. I can't believe this."