Halloween landslide in Petersburg takes out power, phones and internet

View of Oct. 31, 2022, Petersburg landslide from above. (Photo courtesy of Jared Popp)

A landslide about five miles south of Petersburg caused a power outage Monday. Phone lines and internet were also down in parts of town. The slide happened at about 4:30 p.m. and sent a stack of trees and debris across Mitkof Highway. That’s the main road on the island, connecting downtown Petersburg to many residents that live out of town.

As of Monday night, there were no known injuries and no houses were known to be damaged.

A team of responders with Petersburg Fire and EMS searched the debris.

“We’re still searching the pile,” Fire Chief Jim Stolpe said. “I’ve got guys on the other side, and I’ve got two people searching the pile… on that side of the road. Because if there was a car there, when it came through, then that’s what we need to find out. So, there is a little bit of super serious tension right now.”

Stolpe said that one shed was destroyed that was likely a school bus shelter.

Fire Department Spokesman Dave Berg said the damage to infrastructure was extensive.

“It’s taken out power lines and also telephone and two… fiber optic cables from the local providers in the area,” he said. “And fortunately, our internet comes from another direction also, so we will not be isolated in that respect.”

He said that the Alaska Department of Transportation, or DOT, is responsible for removing debris. The road is an Alaska state highway.

Petersburg resident Jeff Hupp lives about four miles south of the slide. He was driving on the road at the time it happened.

“I was on the road. I just picked up the family,” he said. “We were taking the girls in to do trick or treating. …And by the time I drove from their house, to… the store, the power was out.”

The Petersburg Borough said one power pole is destroyed and another one is damaged along the line that brings hydroelectric power to Petersburg. The landslide also damaged the connection to the Blind Slough hydroelectric power system. Borough officials said that customers south of the landslide likely wouldn’t have power until the line is repaired.

It may take the Alaska Department of Transportation a few days to clear the debris from the road. For now, residents can take a detour that includes Cabin Creek Road. It’s a much longer way on dirt roads that aren’t maintained by the borough. The Petersburg school district has excused students who live on the far side of the slide.

KFSK - Petersburg

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

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