Washington landslide: 18 Calif. search and rescue specialists sent to help

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Governor Brown is sending 18 urban search and rescue specialists from California to help recovery efforts after the deadly mudslide in Washington state.

Rescue operations were already underway near Arlington, a small community north of Seattle, where a debris slide brought on by heavy rain now covers about a square-mile area, including a state highway. FEMA requested the additional personnel to coordinate and support operations, according to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. 

"A massive slide like this requires an all-hands on deck approach," said Sacramento City Fire Chief Dan Haverty in a news release from OES. "We are getting our California personnel and gear to the impacted area as fast as possible."

The specialists include representatives of the San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange County and Sacramento fire departments.

Capt. Steve Dohman of the Orange County Fire Authority is there coordinating incoming resources, something he also did during Hurricane Sandy, according to his colleague Capt. Richard Ventura.

"Because he's assigned in a logistics role, it's not the hero/rescue role — it's a support role. It's a very important support role because we can't get the rescuers on the pile without people like Steve making sure the logistics (are) there," Ventura said.

California has eight Urban Search and Rescue Task Force teams that participate in a larger national system managed by FEMA, according to OES. Members of the team specialize in disciplines like first aid, heavy equipment operations, canine search and rescue, hazardous materials, logistics and communications.

At least 14 people are confirmed dead, and the list of missing has fluctuated from a little more than 100 to nearly 200. Some two dozen homes have been destroyed, according to OES.

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