• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 49s

Winter storm ravages coastal communities

By Kirsten Swann 1:33 AM November 11, 2013

Families rally on behalf of Western Alaska towns devastated by flooding, high winds

ANCHORAGE – When a winter storm smashed into the coast of Western Alaska over the weekend, the surging water breached roads and broke through sewage lines.

Communication was cut off. Food supplies were destroyed. Homes were flooded.

Monday evening, a handful of Alaskans stood in the snow on an Anchorage street corner, waving homemade signs and trying to draw attention to the plight of their friends and relatives in communities across the state’s western coast. Wendy Shipton, one of the rally’s organizers, is a St. Michael native whose family ties range from Unalakleet to Kotlik and Stebbins.

She said the tidal surge broke sewage lines in Stebbins, flooding homes and sidewalks. Some residents waded through the icy sewage in search of help. There was none to be found.

Allen Sagoonick, who’s lived in Unalakleet for most of his life, described the raging waves that struck the seaside village Sunday. He said many residents abandoned their homes to flee for higher ground, and the flooding took out electrical power to the town’s fresh water pump house.

“The other villages that do not have high ground to move to are the places that will really be in trouble,” he said.

Sagoonick said Unalakleet was used to winter flooding: The town’s distinct topography was testament to the waves that occasionally surged through town.

“But at the same time, what’s built by the ocean can be taken by the ocean,” he said.

Other coastal communities face the same plight.

Shipton said she was trying to spread the word about Western Alaska’s winter woes. While headlines were dominated by news of Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction in the Philippines, she said she hoped Alaskans would lend a helping hand to their own neighbors affected by the same weather pattern.

Standing on an Anchorage street corner Monday, holding a poster board sign entreating passing drivers to send water and food to Kotlik, Shipton said she felt helpless.

“My son has family in the Philippines and I’m praying for them, but we want to avoid casualties on our own land,” she said. “It’s hard because nobody’s listening, and it’s hard to get the message out.”

Latest Stories

  • Weather

    Weekend weather forecast

    by KTVA Weather on Jan 24, 18:29

    Many areas across the Anchorage Bowl saw 3 to 5 inches of snow accumulation with this last snowfall. High pressure is already building in from the east, and it will produce lots of sunshine across the area as we head into Sunday. The trade-off will be pure cold weather with many locations barely getting out […]

  • Sports

    South Anchorage football hires Chris Borst, former Dimond head coach

    by KTVA Sports on Jan 24, 15:21

    After spending five seasons as head football coach for Dimond High School, Chris Borst is moving across town to coach alongside John Lewis at South. Citing differences in coaching philosophies, Borst left Dimond at the end of the 2014 football season. Former Lynx strength coach Nick Winkler will take over head-coaching duties at Dimond. This is […]

  • Politics

    Palin for president? Former AK governor ‘seriously interested’ in 2016 bid

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 14:36

    Sarah Palin is “seriously interested” in running a 2016 campaign for the White House, according to a recent interview with the Washington Post. The former Alaska governor, the GOP’s 2008 nominee for vice president – and current star of the Sportsman Channel’s Amazing America with Sarah Palin — was asked by the Washington Post whether she was considering […]

  • News

    Anchorage man fatally struck by vehicle in Las Vegas area

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 13:31

    An Anchorage man was struck and killed by a vehicle Thursday evening in the Las Vegas area as he crossed a highway, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety. According to other local news outlets in the area, the Clark County coroner’s office has identified the man as 57-year-old Aarnout Michael Berry, of Anchorage. At […]

  • News

    Army soldiers at JBER, Fort Wainwright at risk of being cut

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 12:39

    U.S. Army officials are holding meetings with 30 communities across the country as decisions are being made about where to cut around 120,000 troops by 2017. Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright are on the list of bases where reductions could be made. Municipality of Anchorage staff are told that it will be up to […]

  • News

    Anchorage police: 58-year-old male found safe

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 24, 12:35

    UPDATE: Anchorage police say Marion Dale Quint has been located and is safe. Original story The Anchorage Police Department is asking for public help finding a missing 58-year-old man last seen Saturday morning. Marion Dale Quint left his assisted living home on foot around 9 a.m., according to a statement from APD. The assisted living home […]

  • Politics

    Gov. Walker: Not easy to be the messenger

    by Rhonda McBride on Jan 24, 12:04

    Gov. Bill Walker said, for the first time in a long time, he had a good night’s sleep after he delivered his State of the Budget address on Thursday. He said it felt good to get the job done. “It was a critical message to get out to Alaskans,” said Walker. The governor said the […]

  • News

    New report reveals behavioral health crisis in Mat-Su

    by Kate McPherson on Jan 23, 23:18

    Not enough is being done to help Mat-Su Valley residents with mental health and substance abuse problems, according to a new report published by the Mat-Su Health Foundation. The report examined the care Mat-Su residents receive when they are experiencing a behavioral health crisis, brought on by mental health and substance abuse problems. A lack […]