THE BLOG
03/27/2014 06:08 pm ET Updated May 27, 2014

A Flood of Mud

I last wrote about the mystery of Malaysian Flight 370 and how that event hit so close to home. At the same time, another event appeared to be brewing underground, just a few miles north of me in tiny Oso, Washington. On March 10, while the world was consumed with the disappearance of MH 370, a 1.1 magnitude earthquake hit the region. According to a theory by John Pennington, the Emergency Management Director for the county I live in, Snohomish, this seemingly insignificant temblor may have started a domino-effect that resulted, twelve days later, in "a 600-foot-high wall of hillside" peeling away and sweeping 15 million cubic yards of mud and debris across a river and into dozens upon dozens of homes. The stability of the hillside may have been disrupted by the unnoticed quake, on a slab of land saturated with large amounts of rain. We have small quakes up here all the time, and rain is not uncommon for us but, this time, these normal, random events may have added up to a perfect geologic storm that gave way to disaster.

Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. aren't meant for massive mudslides. Saturdays are so often meant for sleeping in with a late breakfast, while you figure out what's going on in the world. I can only imagine that some of those swept away in Oso spent part of that morning tuned in to a news channel, getting caught up on the latest information about MH 370, and then their own world literally fell apart.

Both of these disasters have captured the global spotlight, with images and analysis competing for prime time. With MH 370, hope continues, primarily among relatives and loved ones, that the plane will still be found somewhere other than the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Hope is also present at Oso. John Pennington, commenting on the rescue work there said, "I believe in miracles. I believe people can survive these events." We watch and we worry and we hope, because we believe in miracles.

These two events have become so enmeshed in my mind. The family and friends of MH 370 wait for word, without knowing, for sure, where to look, while the family and friends in Oso know right where to look. All you have to do is see the aerial photographs of the mile-long gouge ripped in the face of the earth. In Oso, people know where to look but they don't know where the people are. In order to leave no stone unturned, satellites are now pinging cell phones of the missing, just like they did for MH 370. So far, no one at all has answered back.

Greg Regelbrugge had hope last Sunday, when speaking about his missing brother, John. On Sunday, he said, "If someone can survive it, it's him. He's a strong man and committed father. If there's a way to dig himself out of this, he will." Sunday, there was hope; Tuesday was different. On Tuesday, Greg Regelbrugge texted "Today, me and my two brothers and his son pulled John's body from the debris."

Dayn Brunner has hope while he waits for word about his sister, Summer Raffo, who was driving through the area at the time of the slide, saying, "Somewhere out there is my sister." With hope fading, he continues to be on-site, waiting for news. If she's gone, he wants to bring her body home to their mother. In the absence of hope, he looks for what he calls "closure."

We watch and we worry and we hope, until hope is gone. As hope has evaporated, what remains is a desire for closure. As hope fades, the world looks for closure on the fate of the victims in Oso and on MH 370; I hope we don't have to wait much longer.