It’s easy to complain about the weather in Southeast Alaska. It rains a lot. The wind frequently blows 50 knots or more. It never seems to get warm enough to feel like summer or cold enough to feel like winter.
But this past week has been something else entirely. This isn’t just bad weather. Or even normal weather. Record rainfall plus record high temps for December mean the mountains are emptying themselves of snow; it’s running down hillsides and turning into mud. The wind has brought down countless trees. A creek washed out in Juneau and cut off a fish hatchery from its fresh water source and thousands of baby fish had to be killed.
There were countless landslides, including the big one in Haines that left two people missing. More than 50 people have already evacuated their homes, and hundreds more are prepared to leave in a moment’s notice. In Ketchikan, there were evacuations over the weekend as a reservoir threatened to breach a dam.
Right now my heart is with the people of Haines, who are mourning their losses and trying to figure out how to fix everything that’s so catastrophically broken. But I’m also very concerned about all of Southeast Alaska and the rest of the state too. There’s self-reliance and resilience, but there’s also reality. There’s rebuilding, but there’s also recalibrating.
-- Jennifer Pemberton, KTOO Managing Editor