At 10:37 a.m. on March 22, a huge section of a hill in Oso, Washington, collapsed and buried an astonishing number of homes, automobiles, pets, and human beings. Though it's too early to say, it's possible that this disaster killed close to the number of people killed by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens (57). At the exact moment of the landslide, Don Lein, a local retiree, was at a Shell gas station in Darrington, a short drive on Highway 530 away from Oso. Don says he did not hear the landslide, but he did hear the sirens of emergency vehicles. As he got in his car, he saw still more ambulances and police cars rushing down Highway 530. They were headed in the direction of his house. He followed them in complete ignorance. Then, all of a sudden, he saw something that terrified him: The emergency vehicles had turned around and were now rushing toward him, fleeing the area in a panic. He instinctively did the same. He turned and fled something he could not see or imagine.

A week later, Don and I are standing in the rain across the road from the Oso fire station, two miles from the landslide. He speaks slowly and clearly, but I'm failing to take notes because the rain is soaking the paper in my notebook. Whatever word I write, the rain almost immediately turns into a blotch of blue ink. The rain is also soaking my hat, coat, pants, shoes. I attempt to use the voice recorder on my cell phone, but the raindrops repeatedly pound the touch screen and make it impossible to press clear commands. The photographer with me, Kelly O, begins to take pictures of Don, but after two or three clicks, the rain shuts down her camera. She presses and presses the power button, but it will not come to life. It has had enough of this maddening weather. All of our reporting equipment has been rendered useless by the rain. To say nothing of the real problems the rain is causing. A USA Today story began: "Heavy rain and strong winds played havoc Friday with rescue teams looking for more bodies...

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