Mayor makes Hiland Road avalanche disaster declaration

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Anchorage officials continue to coordinate operations at an avalanche the area of the Hiland Road in Eagle River. Mayor Dave Bronson, City Manager Amy Demboski, Assemblywoman Jamie Allard, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy visited parts of the area, and the mayor has declared a disaster for the area of the slide, which occurred Thursday at about 11:30 pm in the 2400 block of Hiland Road.

Parts of the slide debris field are as deep as 80 feet. While narrowly missing homes, the avalanche was about 300-400 feet wide at the base and caused power outages at over 100 residences. Many residences remain cut off from road access, and it is estimated that it will take several days to clear the road.

Mayor Dave Bronson, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and other officials discuss the avalanche situation across Hiland Road on Saturday.

100 houses, some with medically fragile people, are trapped on the far side of the avalanche. There is now a firefighter placed on that side of the avalanche.

Officials say there is no sign that anyone was buried by the avalanche. On Friday, several households in the area were advised to shelter in place. By Saturday, a couple of dozen households were asked to evacuate, as more slides are possible, and slide warnings have been issued.

On Saturday, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson left the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast and headed to Eagle River. He issued an emergency disaster declaration and asked the state for help with the response and recovery.

The mayor’s disaster declaration is at this link.

On Friday, a Red Cross evacuation shelter was established at the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center in Eagle River, to receive evacuated residents who needed a place to stay.

Residents were asked to stay clear of the slide area, and to not walk on the main slide.

Update: The city has two choices: Bring the rest of the avalanche down with explosives, or let it slide on its own. Both options have risks, including which entity would take the risk for homes that could be destroyed if explosives are used and who would be responsible for replacing those homes. And the explosive route cannot be used if some people refuse to leave their homes, which is currently the case. Another storm is expected tomorrow, which could add more snow onto the already fragile snow load that is bound to come down and follow roughly the same route as the first one.

Responders are now using a snow machine trail to access the people who are cut off.

10 COMMENTS

  1. The importance praying over your home including over your neighborhood. Good chance is the neighborhood has its own prayer warrior, maybe more than one, praying over their neighborhood safety. An unpredictable avalanche stopping just short of homes and people within those homes. Reminds me the rewards coming
    when one consistently prays to God over a concern making
    their requests known with thanksgiving and praise whatever/however the prayer is answared .

    • Richard, what a ridiculous comment. I wonder what you would think, if you woke up to 40 feet of snow in your garage and no way to get into town for days. The power being out would be just one of your problems. Kudos to MEA for getting power back on to most homes cut-off behind the slide area.
      From all reports this slide isn’t done and the chance of homes and lives being destroyed is still very real. I applaud the governor and the mayor for their proactive stance to get the homes that are cut off reconnected quickly and determine the best way to deal with the remaining danger on the slopes.

  2. Of course, if more Eagle River residents had only been religiously wearing their COVID masks and social distancing, this would never have happened.

  3. Wow. Great pic and how crazy how it came down right between all of those homes. So thankful no one, or any home, was buried!

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