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    Haines landslides - community comes together



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexandria Preston 

    U.S. Coast Guard District 17

    Community members and local responders are vital assets when responding to natural disasters in the Final Frontier. A prime example can be derived from the landslides in Haines, Alaska, in early December 2020.

    The State of Alaska issued a disaster declaration after record rainfall in the area that caused landslides to occur. The results were unaccounted for community members, damage to homes and property, flooding, power outages, washed out roads, and debris in the water causing hazards to navigation.

    Several agencies and Alaskan locals participated in the response, including; good Samaritans, local Native tribes, Haines Fire Rescue, Juneau Mountain Rescue, Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search, Alaska State Troopers, Air Force National Guard, Haines Borough Police Department, and multiple Coast Guard units from Southeast Alaska.

    Watchstanders at Sector Juneau were contacted by the Haines Borough Police Department at 1:36 p.m., December, 2, 2020, of the damage and launched assets at approximately 1:45 p.m.

    A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka launched and conducted searches in the affected area to look for potential survivors.

    "We arrived on-scene about two hours after the landslide and were shocked by the size of it’” said Lt. Erik Oredson, an Air Station Sitka co-pilot. “None of the crew had ever seen one of that magnitude. There was a large field of debris in the water which consisted of splintered trees and fragments of unrecognizable building materials. Local responders were already working to evacuate those isolated by the landslide via boat. We searched the mountainside and the debris field both visually and with our infrared search camera, but were unable to locate any survivors. It was a very somber case for the crew."

    The crews of Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa and Coast Guard Cutter Kukui provided site safety and served as on-scene coordinator for several days. A Coast Guard Station Juneau 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew searched the area for survivors, and assisted with debris removal alongside the cutter crews.

    Sector Juneau Incident Management Division personnel provided support to the search and rescue incident command post that was established in the Haines Fire Hall. They later were transferred to the emergency operations center were they assisted the community municipal leaders with the recovery and risk assessment to the city.

    Coast Guard crews searched collectively for approximately 8 hours over a 35 square nautical mile search area.

    Four of the originally six reported missing people were located by the responding agencies. Alaska State Troopers suspended the search for the remaining two missing people pending any potential new information. Relief efforts continue being conducted in the city of Haines by federal and state agencies.

    “The partnerships throughout the multiple organizations involved in the response efforts for this disaster reflect how the Alaskan community comes together in times of need,” Said Capt. Stephen White, commander Coast Guard Sector Juneau. “We offer our condolences to all the residents of Haines who are affected.”



    Date Taken: 03.05.2021
    Date Posted: 03.05.2021 13:45
    Story ID: 390698
    Location: HAINES, AK, US 

    Web Views: 22
    Downloads: 0