Haines to hold remembrance gathering one year after deadly storms

The event is an opportunity to reflect on Haines recovery effort over the last year (Henry Leasia/KHNS)

Next week marks the anniversary of the deadly winter storms in Upper Lynn Canal that killed two people in Haines last year.

There will be a commemoration and dedication gathering on Saturday, Dec. 4 —  a service of memorial for David Simmons and Jenae Larson, who lost their lives in the landslide, and for everyone affected by the disaster.

Mayor Douglas Olerud says the event is spearheaded by the Haines Long Term Recovery Group and a team of dedicated volunteers. The event will start at 1:30 p.m.

“We’re going to meet at the boat harbor parking lot for a short remembrance, vigil,” Olerud said. “Kind of like the candlelight vigil, we thought that’d be a good starting point, because that was our candlelight vigil last December, immediately following the event. And so there’s going to be some short comments there.”

Then there will be a memorial walk to Picture Point, followed by a dedication event. Transportation will be available if needed.

“Then at 2:15 pm there will be a dedication of a couple benches and a table in remembrance of the event at Picture Point,” Olerud said. “There’ll be some light refreshments, provided we’re going to have bonfires there to keep people warm. So it’ll be a chance for people to gather, share their memories, kind of come together as a community.”

Olerud says a community table and the memorial benches for David Simmons and Jenae Larson were designed and created by the Haines High School’s wood shop class.

“Two distinct looking benches, one in remembrance of David one and members of Janae. And then as we continued the conversation, Ann Myron brought up, why don’t we have a third bench for the community. And I believe it was Sylvia Heinz that came up with the idea of doing a table instead. And having that as a feeling, you know, the community all coming around sitting down at the table working together, moving forward,” Olerud said.

Olerud says the event is an opportunity to commemorate the disaster, reflect on the recovery effort over the last year, and celebrate Haines resilience.

“I hope everybody has a good Thanksgiving this week. And throughout this next week that we all take a moment to kind of pause, remember what we went through last year,” Olerud said. “But it’s not our struggles that define us. It’s how we respond to them. And I think the response of Haines has been one of strength and resiliency and compassion for each other. I think as long as we keep going down that road, we’re going to be coming out of this just fine.”

KHNS - Haines

KHNS is our partner station in Haines. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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