Haines Borough declares disaster due to shifting land hazards

The Haines Borough Assembly on Friday held an special meeting to declare a disaster and request state assistance in response to the slump and ground movement that continue near the Oceanview and Lutak areas.

Ground shifting and “mass wasting” of the hillside on the southwest side of Haines were first reported Jan. 16 and continue. One family vacated their home on Jan. 18 because of cracks and shifting of their house near the site. Borough and state road crews, engineers and geologists continue to monitor and track the movement that is causing large cracks and heaves in Oceanview Drive and Lutak Road. Utility lines and a sewer and water main cross the affected 5-acre area and are being monitored. Contingency routes have been established should Lutak Road become impassable.

Lutak Road connects the Alaska marine ferry terminal and barge and fuel dock to Haines. It also connects passenger ferry traffic to the Haines Highway, Canada and Interior Alaska.

The Assembly passed the disaster resolution unanimously Friday in order to begin the process of requesting state funds to help with the response. The Assembly allocated $75,000 in establishing and staffing an emergency command center, hiring an emergency coordinator, hiring a drill rig to conduct geotechnical investigations, establishing monitoring equipment and performing emergency temporary repairs to the sewer utility main.

The resolution states “disaster emergency is now exceeding the ability of the borough to adequately safeguard life and property and minimize the effect of environmental and structural damage.”

The resolution specifically asks for state assistance with “temporary housing for impacted residents, public disaster assistance for emergency protective measures, temporary and permanent repairs to borough sewer, water and transportation infrastructure” and with technical assistance to continue evaluating and responding to the issue.

Mayor Stephanie Scott said the disaster declaration is a tool to get funding from the state, if approved by the governor. The bulk of the responsibility regarding response to the situation remains with the borough.


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