Molalla firefighter and Red Cross director Denise Everhart has been helping victims and families at Oso, Wash. mudslide since March 22.

by: AMERICAN RED CROSS - Red Cross Division Disaster State Relations Director Denise Everhart was among the first responders at the Oso, Wash. tragedy.When a wave of mud and debris roared through a quiet valley near Oso, Wash., on March 22, Denise Everhart, a Molalla volunteer firefighter, was one of the first to respond.

Everhart, who is the Division Disaster State Relations director for the American Red Cross in Oregon, Washington and Alaska, said she was notified right after the catastrophic mudslide happened that Red Cross support was needed at the disaster site.

“We organized local volunteers and got up there,” Everhart said. “Ever since this happened, we’ve been finding shelter and feeding people, including the first responders, and giving mental and spiritual help.”

We also have been coordinating all these activities with the other agencies involved.”

The death toll continues to rise as rescue workers recover more bodies buried in the mud of former residences. As of Monday, 21 people were confirmed dead, and authorities said 30 people are still missing.

“I feel lucky and blessed to be able to help, but this might be the hardest thing I have ever done,” Everhart said Monday morning. “This tragedy is so horrific. And the community is just like Molalla. It’s a logging town with a fire department just like us, and the task ahead of them is so enormous and heartbreaking.”

by: AMERICAN RED CROSS - Briefing for Red Cross workers at the Oso, Wash. mudslide disaster Everhart went up to the operations base right at the mudslide site and helped organize the response to the disaster, talking to people and local firefighters.

“They’ve all been working so hard and they have so much heart,” she said. “Gov. Jay Inslee came and visited our Red Cross office there yesterday to thank us, and that was really nice.”

After working every day for a week at the site, Everhart had a 24-hour rest leave Monday at home in Molalla. She will be back at Oso Tuesday, helping as long as she’s needed.

“If you can help, you help,” she said.

“Lessons learned out of this will last for years to come,” she added. “The response for every community member and first responder was amazing. It’s a horrific tragedy, but a fantastic display of human support and spirit.”

She said donations would really help to continue providing the services she and other Red Cross people are providing. If people do want to help, they can donate at

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