Washington mudslide death toll rises to 28, local churches remember victims

While Washington state authorites combed through the wreckage of the March 22 devastating mudslide, local churches offered prayers  for dozens of people dead and missing. Services were held on Sunday, providing some comfort to families and friends still waiting on an updated status of loved ones who have gone missing since the mudslide wreacked havoc more than a week ago.

The mudslide, which took place just northeast of Seattle, had a death count that last stood at 18. This number was based on the amount of victims whose bodies have been recovered and positively identified by medical examiners.

But now, authorities in Snohomish County say they've found 10 more sets of remains that are waiting to be identified, making the assumed body count now 28. 

Staff members at the Weller Funeral Home, located in in Arlington, located a few miles from where the mudslide occurred, are usually accustomed to preparing for two to three funerals a week, but according to Reuters, they say that weekly funeral number has risen to twelve.

66-year-old Don Little of Redmond, Washington, shared that he would attend a prayer service at the Church of God of Prophecy in Darrington, a church where one of the members has a husband who is still missing.

"She's still hoping beyond hope that they find him alive, and everybody's wishing for that," Little told Reuters. "Sometimes we don't get what we really want but we've got to learn to accept things."

Pastor Les Hagen of the Glad Tidings Christian Assembly encouraged his congregation to stay strong. 

"We're all hurting," he said on Sunday. "We've had a terrible week. It still continues, but life must go on.

The pastor urged his church visitors to stay in routine, although times were difficult. "Keep putting one foot in front of the other," he said. "Eventually all of this will be in the rear view mirror of your life and it will be a memory. It will be a horrible memory, but it will be a memory."

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