Alaska State Troopers and the Haines Volunteer Fire Department evacuated residents by boat on Wednesday afternoon after a large landslide crashed through a piece of houses. Searchers are looking for six people who may be trapped in the rubble, the fire department said.
Record rainfall triggered the major and minor landslides in the community in southeast Alaska. Residents reported widespread damage, including flooding, across the city. At least one home was badly damaged after the large slide tumbled down Battery Hill, soldiers said.
Local fisherman Woody Pahl was tucking his boat on a trailer near the harbor when a landslide hit some houses, he suspected about three of them, around 2:00 p.m.. m.
« All of a sudden there was a tidal wave going out from the beach and I knew something big had just happened, » he said. « And I look over and all the water goes out, all the boats go back to the harbor. And the slope just slides and sends all the trees and everything, the houses, into the bay in front of the city. ”
« We looked up and the mountainside was coming down and we just tore out of there, » he said.
Ward said he immediately walked from the Quick Shop to Beach Road where the slide passed. The police asked him not to pass.
« There are all kinds of household items – foam and buckets and colored things – in the water, » he said. “Eerie feeling. ”
The Haines neighborhood asked the Coast Guard and National Guard for helicopter assistance. Locals took out boats to help.
The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are working to bring displaced people to hotels. Rescue workers are calling for evacuees to keep lights on now that it is dark to signal they need to be picked up from the beach or wherever they are, said Britt Tonnessen, of the Alaska Red Cross. Those in need of evacuation or other assistance can also call: 907-268-6015
The Haines district declared a weather emergency as heavy rains washed the streets in the city and landslides destroyed at least two houses. The risk of additional landslides has led to evacuations.
Schools and clinic were closed. Road damage blocked access to the airport and the dock. The National Weather Service recorded nearly six inches of rain in 24 hours and it was still raining on Wednesday afternoon. The agency says this type of storm only occurs once every 25 years.
Derek Poinsette lives in a neighborhood outside of town. His house was damaged by the storm and is now cut off from the town where the street has washed away.
« We had a tree on top of our house last night, down from the slope, the roots are loosely cut, probably because the ground is saturated, » said Poinsette.
Shori Heaton of Haines says that her parents’ home at the end of Lutak Road was hit by a landslide around 6:00 am. m. Wednesday mornings. The house was empty. It was one of at least two houses that were destroyed by mudslides.
Neighbors next door were also damaged in their basement. According to Heaton, the neighbors were sleeping when the slide passed.
« They were up, » said Heaton. “You slept on the couch in another room. It hit the house, rumbled. They ran down the stairs to their bedroom, which is the basement and is just full of mud. It has a foot to four feet of mud in it.
« At 8:00 am I was looking for the chickens and they were basically floating away, they were standing on their grocery bags, » she said.
At 10:00 a.m.. m. She set an alarm four hours later so she could check the water level.
« I couldn’t drive at this point, » she said. “I called the shipping department because the water was over the hood of my car. Or it was like up to the bumpers and I couldn’t get out. ”
A morning medevac to the nearest hospital had to land in the parking lot of the Public Safety Building due to washouts and flooding between the city and the airport in the city center. Washed-out streets also separate the urban area of Haines from the fuel supply dock and barges.
Ed Coffland, director of public works for the Haines District, said there is three feet of stagnant water on the property next to the local laundromat near the city center. Some residents have cleared their homes in this area.
The national weather service has forecast more rain by the end of the week. You have advised people who live along streams to stay vigilant and be ready to take action if a warning or notice is given.
Heavy rains over the past two days have caused flooding and wrecked roads in Haines.
On Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Haines County Police Department first reported a mudslide on Anway Road to residents, with water and debris on Piedad Road. Several streets were washed out during the night. At least one house was evacuated due to flooding.
The following streets are now blocked or impassable in Haines: Piedad Road, 2 Mile Haines Highway, Young Road, Lutak Road, Beach Road, Spruce Grove Road, Cathedral View Road, North First Avenue and Soap Suds Alley, Mud Bay Road at Letnikoff Cove.
The National Meteorological Service has issued a flood watch that will remain in effect until late Wednesday evening. Individuals living along streams should remain vigilant and be ready to take action if a warning or notice is given or flooding is observed.
High winds, floods and landslides caused moderate to severe damage to communities in southeast Alaska on Wednesday as an atmospheric flow stalled over the region and brought record-breaking rain.
City workers are working to clear mudslides and mitigate flooding in several parts of Juneau.
Alaska, landslide, Haines, flood, Juneau
World News – CA – A major landslide in Haines leads to evacuations and searches for missing people
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