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Disaster Response Includes Concerns For Mental Health

Snohomish County

The waiting continues for family and friends of the dozens of people missing after last weekend's deadly landslide near Oso, Wash.

Disaster assistance groups say it's important to look after the mental health of victims, too.

The "not knowing" is one of the worst parts for many victims of catastrophic events. That's been especially true this week in communities near the landslide.

The American Red Cross' Paula Negele says more than a dozen Red Cross volunteers from Oregon are on site in Snohomish County. The organization has set up two shelters in the small towns close to the landslide site: Darrington and Arlington.

"People may not spend the night there but they do become a focal gathering point during the day where people can come together, talk about how they're feeling, what they've experienced, talk to somebody in disaster mental health to nourish their soul and their heart."

Negele says Red Cross volunteers from the Northwest who specialize in mental health have been dispatched across the nation in recent year. Those destinations have included Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, tornadoes in the deep south, and wildfires in Colorado.