Seattle Times photographer Lindsey Wasson recalls reporting from the Oso landslide and covering the aftermath.

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I’ll never forget my days covering the Oso slide.

 A year later


 

A look back

Click the photo above to see The Seattle Times’ complete coverage of the Oso landslide, including investigative stories, profiles of the victims, interactive maps and a photo gallery.

The photographs I made can never fully translate the feeling of standing in the presence of such tragedy and raw power.

When I arrived at the edge of the scene the morning after, it was a beautiful, sunny day. The peacefulness in the air belied the violence of what lay before us. Sparrows hopped around on objects in the mud: kitchen spices, a muddy tennis ball. A “school bus stop ahead” sign was still standing in front of a crushed house, littered across a destroyed Highway 530.

I realized there wouldn’t be stops there for a long time.

In the hours and days that followed, the scope of the event would become clear. This was the largest natural disaster my home state had seen in my lifetime.

I watched residents struggle to cope with their loss as a 24-7 national media frenzy, myself included, saturated the landscape. Travis Hots, the local fire chief, would nearly break down in tears as he faced rows of cameras, describing what he found each day.

But during my time there, I also witnessed an intense strength and will to help. Walking around Arlington, I came upon two women who turned their birthday party into a benefit that raised thousands of dollars. At Oso’s chapel, I met a family of landslide volunteers who put their lives on hold, opening their house to others who were doing the same.

This story will always stay with me as an example of many things: tragedy, the power of nature, the randomness of life and death, and the strength of community.