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December 8, 2020 / This week from The Signal

All the latest news and information from around Alaska.

The Salvation Army's mobile food truck in Haines on Dec. 6, 2020. They are serving coffee, snacks and full meals to volunteers and staff outside of the Haines’ emergency operations center. (Photo by Rashah McChesney / KTOO. See more photos from Haines.)

But first… 

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

Top stories from last week

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One thing to share...

For your collection of non-pandemic-related reading material, I offer you this story from Audubon Magazine about a Yup'ik elder reviving the art of sewing feather-lined parkas for babies. It was nearly lost with waterfowl regulation. The story is written by a former Alaska journalist, and even though we ran it as a radio story last year I gotta say, I like this version a whole lot more.
KTOO Public Media would like to acknowledge the L'eeneidí and the Wooshkeetaan of the Áak’w Khwáan. Our broadcast studios are on their ancestral homeland. Our building sits on fill that was once tideland and part of what is called the Indian Village. The families of the Juneau Indian Village, like their ancestors, cherish and depend upon their immediate connection to the waterfront. KTOO is working to lift up Tlingit voices and the Tlingit language. Please excuse us for our mistakes, and gunalchéesh for your patience as we learn.

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What are you waiting for? For an entertaining inside take on the biggest news in Alaska, try The Signal – just enter your email to get the latest edition delivered every week - it's free, we keep your email safe, and you can easily unsubscribe any time.