Slide diverts river; Oso homes at risk

Snohomish County has declared a state of emergency for part of the town of Oso after a landslide blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River, diverting the water through a neighborhood and threatening about a dozen homes, said Chris Badger, emergency coordinator for the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

Emergency-management officials first heard about the slide near the 31000 block of Steelhead Drive northeast of Arlington about 4 p.m. Wednesday, but had to wait until daylight Thursday to inspect the area by air, said Badger.

From a helicopter, officials saw that about 300 yards of a hillside had slid into the river and diverted it, said Badger.

The river is at a low level, but emergency officials say that if it rises it could damage homes in the area, said Badger. Some yards were flooded Thursday, but there was no significant damage, she said.

"Nobody has been evacuated yet; the river has been pretty steady at this time," Badger said.

County emergency-management officials will meet with the Army Corps of Engineers today to try to figure out a solution, said Badger.

Officials also will provide sandbags to people who live in the area in case the river rises, she said.

Brian Alexander: 425-745-7845 or