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Federal Disaster Declaration Could Bring Relief To Oso Homeowners Without Landslide Insurance

Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)
Governor Jay Inslee signs the request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the Oso mudslide.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee Monday filed a formal request for a federal disaster declaration. If this is granted, it means the survivors of the massive landslide near Oso, Washington, would be eligible for federal assistance. Many of them will be counting on that since they don’t have landslide insurance.

Inslee said the search teams are continuing their efforts. But at the same time, the state is looking to the future. "We are now in the beginning phases of what you might think of as our mid-term or long-term planning process, particularly for housing for these families," he said.

Displaced families may get help in the form of short-term housing vouchers, but many in the landslide zone won't see insurance payouts for their lost property.

A Seattle-based industry group estimates that fewer than one percent of all home and business owners in Washington have landslide coverage. It’s expensive and can cost an additional $1,000 a year or more for a single-family home.

It’s suspected that most homeowners in the path of the slide did not have this type of coverage. A spokeswoman for the Washington State Insurance Commissioner said this means few people, if any, will be getting payouts.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.