Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Western Alaska Town Braces for Sea Storm
Businesses along Front Street in Nome are closing in preparation for a potentially disastrous storm. While residents are concerned, they are preparing instead of panicking.
Nervousness began to settle over Nome last Friday. The old-timers said the impending storm could be as bad as 1974. Wells Fargo NW Alaska Community Banking President Loren Prosser heeded the warnings. His thoughts turned to his home on Front Street, his wife Tara, and their little girl. Prosser spent the weekend prepping.
By Monday, he had already cleared out most of his belongings and boarded up the windows. His second floor deck faces southwest, no more than 10 yards from Norton Sound’s high tide. Prosser says another fall storm in 2004 destroyed the deck and flooded Front Street. In the face of an 8 to 10 foot storm surge, it could happen again.
“I think everybody has their fingers crossed that there’s maybe overexcitement about this and over-preparedness. But my gut tells me that’s probably not the case,” Prosser said. “I’d much rather be called ‘Chicken Little’ on Thursday than to not be prepared for this just based on what we anticipate coming.”
Prosser oversees the bank’s branches in Nome and Kotzebue. He decided against opening in Nome today. He says most of the other businesses on Front Street are closed, too. The ones that aren’t right now, he expects to be so before the storm hits this afternoon.
The Nome recreation center is an evacuation point and school let out at 11 this morning. There’s concern in Nome, but not fright. “It’s definitely not a panic scene. They’re just anticipating it. Folks got to the store yesterday. There are a lot of empty shelves there, and I think people are just hunkering down,” Prosser said.