Stafford woman believes family died instantly in Washington mudslide


by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 31 at 10:40 PM

STAFFORD, Texas – A Stafford mother has been on an emotional journey from the moment a rain soaked hillside gave way and buried a community in Washington state.

Nichole Rivera grew up near Arlington, Wash., in a neighborhood in the North Cascade Mountains.

She flew back to her hometown as soon the news of the destructive mudslide surfaced. Her mother, father, 19-year-old daughter and daughter’s fiancé were all directly in its path.

“I just can’t even describe it. I’m not sure there are words for it,” explained Nichole Rivera.

Rivera said she accepted early on that her family had perished. Her daughter, Delaney Webb, happened to be visiting her grandparents with her fiancée when catastrophe struck.

The couple was planning to get married at the grandparent’s home this summer.

“It pretty much flew across the valley where my parents and daughter were in,” explained Rivera.

Rivera tells KHOU that the remains of her daughter’s fiancée have been recovered.

Her daughter and parents are still considered missing.

“The cadaver dogs are getting hits on pieces as small as a tooth. It makes it really intense and time consuming and not necessarily recovering a lot of bodies,” explained Rivera.

Rivera said she has little hope that the bodies of her family will be recovered.

She plans to remain in Washington until mid-April. A memorial service for her loved ones is planned for later this month.

In the meantime, she’s been receiving a lot of support from the greater Houston area.

Rivera owns a business called Quilt Your Own in Stafford. Her business partner said the entire quilting community has come together.

“There is a big ripple effect in Houston. Many of the quilt guilds sent out notices to their members to remember Nichole and to make quilts,” said business partner and friend Chris Ginkens.

Ginkens said Rivera was working on a quilt for her daughter’s upcoming wedding when the mudslide happened.

“We talked about how the wedding was going to be in August. How excited she was and how much she wanted to create an heirloom quilt for her daughter,” said Ginkens.

The quilting community has already raised more than $23,000 for families of the victims.

For more information on how you can help, click here.