'It's great having generous neighbours': Yukon gov't gives $25K to help Haines, Alaska, recovery

·2 min read

The Mayor of Haines, Alaska, says he is "very appreciative" of a donation from the Yukon government to assist with relief efforts after a massive storm hit the community last month.

In early December heavy rains washed out roads, flooded neighbourhoods, and triggered mudslides that destroyed homes and created sinkholes across town. Two people are still missing and presumed dead.

On Wednesday, the Yukon government announced it was giving $25,000 to the Salvation Army Alaska Division to support relief and recovery efforts in Haines.

Doug Olerud, mayor of Haines, says the money is going directly to the families and loved ones of those who are directly affected.

"I know they're extremely appreciative, it's great having generous neighbours," Olerud said.

He said it has been amazing to see the outpouring of support that the community has received so far. He estimates that repairs could cost anywhere between $10 to $20 million in total and could take a few years to complete.

In a news release from the territorial government sent Wednesday, Premier Sandy Silver is quoted as saying that the ongoing efforts of the Salvation Army and emergency crews in responding to the disaster are "greatly appreciated."

"Our shared geography with Alaska makes us neighbours, but our shared interests make us friends. Yukoners were shocked and saddened at the tragic news of the loss of life, flooding and ensuing disaster," Silver said in the release.

'A long recovery process'

Olerud said they are still working on recovering from the landslide that happened on Beach Road.

"There's a significant crack in the ground along the top of where that slide came down from, and we're worried that if that breaks loose or when that breaks loose there could be significant damage down below it," he said.

He said the "imminent threat of danger" has meant they have had to keep the road closed and has hampered efforts to help affected residents in the area.

Along with the logistics of working to recover from the damage, Olerud said the past month has been emotionally challenging for the community as well.

"It's going to be a long recovery process … the slide's visible from pretty much anywhere in town. You can't get away from it. You've got a reminder all the time of the event. It's going to be a long, long recovery."

"It's a lot easier to repair roads and utilities. Getting past the grief process is a much tougher proposition."