Yakutat declares local emergency, citing an imminent threat of roofs collapsing

The front of a building buried in deep snow
A collapsed car port at the Public Safety Building in Yakutat.(Photo courtesy of Casey Mapes)

The City and Borough of Yakutat declared a local disaster emergency on Tuesday, citing the imminent threat of roof collapse caused by dangerous snow loads throughout the Southeast Alaska city.

Borough Manager Jon Erickson said Yakutat has gotten about 6 feet of snow over the past few weeks, causing school closures, intermittent power outages and damage to buildings.

The city normally keeps four snow shovelers on retainer, but Erickson said the team is too small to keep up with the accumulating snow.

“We’ve been shoveling off, but right now we just don’t have enough shovelers,” he said. “So we contacted emergency management, and they’re probably going to be sending a team of 10 shovelers down here.”

One of the hardest hit structures has been the newly built $11 million Community Health Center, which Erickson said could cost millions to repair and is currently functioning only as an emergency facility.

“We closed the Community Health Center so we don’t have any outpatient service. All we have is emergency service and ambulance service. That’s really what’s kind of scary,” Erickson said.

A school building in the snow
The school building in Yakutat, which will be closed through January 14th due to dangerous snow accumulation. (Photo courtesy of Casey Mapes)

According to a news release from the State Department of Military and Veteran Affairs late Tuesday, the Alaska National Guard is deploying service members and vehicles to Yakutat via military airlift to assist with emergency snow removal and building safety.

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