“I just saw the darkness coming across the road. Everything was gone in three seconds,” Paulo Falcao told the newspaper.
Search-and-rescue help came from around the region, plus the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers. More than 100 were at the scene.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Sunday afternoon.
People who live in the North Fork’s flood plain, from the small communities of Oso to Stanwood, were urged Saturday to flee to higher ground.
Snohomish County officials said Sunday morning that residents could return during daylight hours but that they would likely reissue the evacuation order Sunday night.
Dane Williams, 30, who lives a few miles from the mudslide spent Saturday night at a Red Cross shelter at an Arlington school.
He said he saw a few “pretty distraught” people at the shelter who didn’t know the fate of loved ones who live in the destroyed neighborhood.
“It makes me want to cry, just looking at them,” Williams said Sunday.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed a state of emergency.
Bart Treece, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said he didn’t know how long the two-lane rural road would be closed. Drivers were advised to find another way to get between Darrington and Arlington, he said.
Snohomish County authorities said the area has a history of unstable land. He said a slide also happened there in 2006.
Pennington said Saturday’s slide happened without warning.
“This slide came out of nowhere,” he said.