DARRINGTON, WA - The Hampton Lumber Mill in Darrington, WA will receive financial aid from Washington State to continue operations as the Department of Transportation rebuilds the road destroyed by the mudslide at Oso, WA.
Gov. Jay Inslee said the Washington State Department of Commerce and United Way of Snohomish County is providing $300,000 in grant funding to help Hampton Mill continue operations while SR 530 is repaired.
On March 22, 2014 a landslide engulfed 49 homes and other structures in an unincorporated neighborhood near Oso, WA, killing more than 40 people. Articles in the New York Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said studies warned of a possible mudslide. A Wikipedia entry on the mudslide cites reports that suggest clear-cut logging, possibly unauthorized, may have allowed ground water to flow in ways that contributed to the disaster.
The mudslide also dammed a river, causing extensive flooding upstream, as well as blocking State Route 530, the main route to the town of Darrington, 15 miles east of Oso.
“Hampton Mill is the economic heartbeat of Darrington, and the truckers that bring raw materials to the mill and deliver finished products are its lifeline,” said Gov. Inslee. The funds will be distributed in two installments, the first $150,000 immediately and the next on June 1.
Hampton Mill said it will use the funding to purchase fuel cards for truckers serving the sawmill who are experiencing significant increases in time and fuel costs resulting because of the road closure.
“Our objective is to keep the mill operating and keep people working," said Tim Johnson, plant manager of Hampton Lumber Mills. "These funds will help us do that for as long as possible by offsetting our increased fuel costs.”
Steve Zika, Hampton CEO, said one Darrington Mill employee lost his home, and several employees lost family members in the slide. Loggers and mill workers in the area were among the early responders to the disaster.
"I am proud of how our employees have courageously and generously responded by helping in the rescue activity," Zika said, noting that the mill maintained operation.
"The sawmill and planer are operating and the extra effort by employees to get to work under taxing conditions is appreciated," Zika said in a statement.