Mapping the Oso, WA landslide ~Bruce Biles

Posted on March 27, 2014 By

We’ve put up our initial interactive Disaster Map of the Oso, WA landslide. I call it “initial” as the whole process grows as we filter and analyze the data coming in about this tragic event. If anyone reading has GIS data, links, pics, videos, etc please feel free to shoot us an email at the website and we will place it on the Map.

USGS photo of landslide from their multi-media gallery. Click pick to access.

USGS photo of landslide from their multi-media gallery. Click pick to access.

Having survived the man-made disaster of the Army Corps of Engineers flood wall failures, which flooded 80% of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina missed the city, I am left asking hard questions about why these people built beneath this hillside –when it had a history of sliding, as reported by the Seattle Times. “Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river,” Daniel Miller, a geomorph­ologist said. “We’ve known that it’s been failing,” he said of the hill. “It’s not unknown that this hazard exists.” People have every right to live where they want to live, yet zoning and insurance can limit the risks associated with such lifestyle choices. In our case, in New Orleans and coastal Louisiana, it is Flood Insurance, and higher taxes to pay for our massive flood control structures. In the case of Oso, WA, it would be the County Commissioners issuing building permits, and/or the County Zoning Codes. As we learn about the area above and around the slide, it is becoming apparent that they had warning, but chose to accept the risk rather than mitigate it.

Our hearts go out to those lost in this horrible event. We’ve been there, with hundreds killed by the Federal Flood of New Orleans 8-29-05. That was a man-made disaster, not a natural disaster. In Oso, WA, it remains to be seen how this disaster is perceived and mitigated in the future.

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