Skepticblog » Oso tragic, Oso foolish

Oso DNR Overlay Capture 2
DNR/Dave Tucker

Skepticblog » Oso tragic, Oso foolish.

I’ve debated whether to reblog this post since I first read it about a month ago. Some of the author’s comments will not sit well with those affected by the Oso mudslide and it is important to note that some people who lived here had no idea of the danger they were in. Some were also working in the area or were visitors.

Why this post is interesting is because it discusses possibly the biggest question kicked around in the media since the initial on-scene coverage died down: who is ultimately responsible? I’ve heard people argue that they should be able to build wherever they want without government interference. Is the government, then, responsible for assisting with rescue, recovery, and relief efforts?

Others argue that the government should have never allowed building permits for this area and should have done more to educate those living there. What if residents won’t move anyway? Is the government then exempt from providing assistance? Should insurance companies still provide coverage? Are people’s rights violated when the government denies permits?

These are the questions that have to be asked as the question of responsibility is sorted out in our courts. What residents did or didn’t know can vary from household to household. And no one would have wished this horror upon themselves, their families, or others.

Given the number of homes in Western Washington built in dangerous areas, these are questions that come up from time to time. They are relevant now; they will be relevant again when we experience future earthquakes and landslides.

This post, from the Municipal Research and Services Center here in Washington, discusses potential regulations being considered since the Oso slide, Oso “Extreme Event” Prompts New Look at Landslide Hazards Regulation. It has links to some excellent reads and resources including John Schwartz’s New York Times article mentioned in the Skepticblog post.It also contains links to existing local geologic hazardous areas codes, like Seattle’s and Everett’s.


©2014 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/


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