2014-03-28T225713Z_1135148112_GM1EA3T0J7201_RTRMADP_3_USA-MUDSLIDE-WASHINGTONSTATE

Small-town Washington state mayor finds new role after mudslide

Darrington Mayor Rankin hugs a Snoqualmie Tribal Elder after the tribe announced it would donate towards the Oso landslide rescue efforts in DarringtonBy Jonathan Kaminsky DARRINGTON, Washington (Reuters) – Days after a Washington state mudslide left dozens dead and missing, Dan Rankin stood in a high school gymnasium and hugged tight a teenage girl reeling from the loss of her sister. Before the March 22 disaster, Rankin’s main tasks as mayor of the small logging town of Darrington included overseeing town council meetings and resolving property line disputes in the community of about 1,350 people. But since the mudslide about 10 miles west of town, Rankin’s job has been transformed into that of comforting the grieving and articulating their anguish to the outside world. Along with those who lost their homes and relatives, nearly everyone in Darrington is mourning a friend or acquaintance lost in the disaster, and usually more than one.

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