As many as 220 people were feared to have been missing at one point due to the fatal Washington mudslide that happened this past weekend.
Darrington, Wash. residents were blindsided by the natural disaster, now blamed for over twenty deaths. The number of those missing has significantly dropped over the past few days as persons become accounted. Some have been found to have not been home at the time of the incident. The bodies of others have since been recovered.
The first of such victims to be identified by name was 45-year-old Christina Jefferds. Jefferds's daughter, Natasha Huestis, had initially been feared to have been among the victims. It was later learned that she'd gone to Arlington the morning of the mudslide.
Tragically, Huestis's infant daughter, Sanoah, was left with her grandmother. The 4-month-old is still missing.
"It's stressful to think about," said Doug Massingale, the baby's grandfather. "A little baby that hasn't gotten a start yet in life. It's too much."
There are believed to be as many as 90 victims still trapped within the mud and debris. Though an attempt to recover the bodies has been ongoing, it is believed that some bodies may simply never be found.
Though rescue workers are using heavy equipment like bulldozers and even their bare hands to try and find the remains of the missing, some areas are simply too dangerous to try and get at. Putting rescuers at risk to find individuals who are likely dead is an unrealistic request, no matter how painful the alternative is.
For the families of the missing and likely deceased, not having a body raises questions of exactly what they are to do going forward. How much time will pass before the loved one is declared dead? Not having a body to bury, what sort of unique funeral arrangements must be made?
These are just a couple of the painful questions that some will have to ask as recovery efforts begin to wind down.
Image via Wikimedia Commons