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Live updates: Only light rain showers are expected Tuesday for Southeast Alaska

Heavy rains washed out Young Road in Haines, where more than 7 inches of rain has fallen.
Heavy rains washed out Young Road in Haines, where more than 7 inches of rain has fallen.(Erik Stevens)
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 11:51 AM AKST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 3:58 PM AKST
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HAINES, Alaska (KTUU) - Follow along for the latest updates as heavy rains impact Southeast Alaska.

Dec. 10 — 8 9.m.

Red Cross starts next phase of disaster response in Haines

The Red Cross will begin a disaster assessment on Friday. Red Cross volunteers will visit areas affected to assess the damage and see if additional resources can be provided.

As of Thursday, 42 people are staying in Red Cross-provided housing.

Dec. 8 — 6:39 a.m.

Tuesday looks to bring a welcoming trend to Southeast Alaska as only light rain showers are expected

With more moisture building in off of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska, most locations can expect to see anywhere from half an inch to an inch of rain by this evening.

While the rain is lighter, mudslides and flooding is still a concern due to the recent heavy rain.

A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect for the Northern Inner Channels through 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Later Tuesday and through the rest of the week colder air spills back into Southeast. This will yield more in the way of a Snow/Rain mix if not all snow which will help alleviate some of the flooding and mudslide concerns as ground conditions should be back on their way to freezing.

Dec. 7 — 6:29 p.m.

Haines homes to be demolished after damaged by flood

Four more homes are set to be demolished in Haines due to last week’s flooding.

Jan Dubber, the owner of Spruce Grove Park, returned to Haines from out of state on Sunday. She inspected four of the six trailers and homes she rents out and found flooding had caused widespread damage.

“We’re going to have to demolish them,” she said, before explaining that the residents of the homes have found temporary shelter.

On Wednesday, water rose quickly and inundated the properties. Dubber had not looked at her other two homes but found the water damage extensive over the four she did.

Alekka Fullerton, the Haines interim city manager, said hundreds of homes across the borough had been damaged from destructive winter weather and landslides. Four homes have been lost from slides.

Dubber and her husband are in their 70s and are looking to retire soon. The loss of four properties wouldn’t see them lose everything but it would cause challenges, she said.

Dec. 7 — 2:16 p.m.

Search suspended for missing Haines residents

Alaska State Troopers announced Monday that the active search for two missing Haines residents has been suspended, five days after the landslide hit the Beach Road area.

Troopers say that the likelihood of continued rain and additional landslides led to the decision to suspend the active search.

Read more: Search suspended for 2 missing Haines residents

Dec. 7 — 7:49 a.m.

Rain to continue in Southeast

Turning the page to a new work week and light rain showers are still in the forecast. While the rain will be lighter through the day, any rain will continue to exacerbate the ongoing flooding and mudslide issues.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the Klondike Highway for areas above 2000′ through 3 p.m., while the Northern Inner Channels, including Haines, is under a Flash Flood Watch through 3 p.m. Tuesday. This comes as an additional bout of rain is expected. The rain will be lighter amounting to less than 2 inches of rain through the middle of the week.

A look ahead shows that the wet pattern will continue this week, however cooler weather filtering in will allow for a transition to a wintry mix if not snow which will allow for the flooding concerns to lower through the end of this week

Dec. 7 — 7:07 a.m.

West Fair Drive closed due to repairs

Haines police say West Fair Drive will be closed Monday due to repairs from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. They urge drivers to use an alternate route.

Dec. 6 — 9:01 p.m.

Flash Flood Watch for Haines extended through Tuesday

The National Weather Service has extended the Flash Flood Watch for Haines through Tuesday afternoon after record rainfall totals last week. The danger remains for new landslides or for previous landslides to grow. Another 1 to 2 inches of rain is expected through Tuesday for the area.

The National Weather Service warns to stay aware of any steep terrain above you and watch for any changes such as cranks in land or pavement, trees falling over, overflowing wells or wet basements.

Showers are expected for Monday and are still likely for Tuesday. The chance of rain and snow showers drops toward the middle of the week, though scattered snow and rain lingers.

Dec. 6 — 4:45 p.m.

Residents should remain prepared to evacuate

Haines police officers spent the night checking fixed points every 90 minutes to monitor any changes and determine if an evacuation order was needed.

Late Saturday night, Haines Borough Mayor Doug Olerud put out a notice that residents from Piedad to Picture Point should have a bag packed and ready to go.

The borough set up emergency housing at the school just in case it was needed. Two families chose to evacuate in the middle of the night and were housed at a hotel that had rooms available.

Interim Borough Manager Alekka Fullerton said their intent was not to scare residents or cause needless worry.

“We do need people to be informed. We do need people to be ready and prepared and we made the decision that knowledge and keeping people informed was more important, even if it feels a bit scary so people can make their own decisions,” Fullerton said.

Dec. 6 — 3:00 p.m.

U-Haul filled with donations arrives from Juneau

Volunteers formed a bucket brigade and spent more than three hours unloading donated goods from the back of a U-Haul that arrived on the ferry Sunday morning.

Items included 700 donuts, 20 Papa Murphy’s pizzas, hundreds of rolls of toilet paper and paper towels and countless food products.

Jan Hill with the American Legion was organizing the unloading, trying to find room for everything.

“You name it, we got it,” Hill said.

Hill said the pizzas would be cooked on Monday for people who’ve been displaced by landslides.

About 50 homes have been evacuated as more landslide threats linger around town.

She said the support from surrounding communities is almost overwhelming.

“We’re getting calls every day, all day long wanting to know what they can do to help us,” Hill said. “It’s incredible. But this is what we do.”

Read more: U-Haul filled with donations arrives from Juneau

U-Haul arrives in Haines with supplies
U-Haul arrives in Haines with supplies(KTUU)

Dec. 6 — 12:20 p.m.

Crews brave hazardous conditions to keep roads open

Haines Borough Mayor Doug Olerud has a message for people who want to get a look at landslide damage: Stay off the roads.

He said construction and public works crews are working around the clock to keep roads open and free of debris.

Road conditions in Haines, Alaska
Road conditions in Haines, Alaska(KTUU)

Lutak Road is a particularly dangerous area where some residents report dozens of small slides.

“We’re asking not just the first responders but our public works people, they’re putting themselves in hazardous conditions to try and fix this and provide access and mobility for all of us. I would hope that would resonate with people who just want to go out and see what’s happening,” Olerud said.

One area of concern is Young Road, which is a main thoroughfare for residents. Several pieces of heavy machinery were working on the road Sunday morning and ripped up culverts were piled on the shoulder.

Road conditions in Haines, Alaska
Road conditions in Haines, Alaska(KTUU)

“We’re trying to keep is passable right now,” said interim borough manager Alekka Fullerton.

She said there are ripped up roads and culverts all over town and crews are doing their best to prioritize.

Olerud said people should only be traveling if it’s necessary.

“These guys know they’re in very hazardous conditions so please let them do their work so they’re not worried about you as well,” he said.

Dec. 6 — 8:51 a.m.

Uncertainty weighs on evacuees

More than 50 homes remain evacuated around Haines and more areas are under notice of evacuation as the rain continues.

Those who have been displaced wait for news of when they’ll be able to return home.

Steve Wishstar’s home is on the other side of the Beach Road, about 600 feet from the landslide.

His family had about five minutes to pack up and leave their home on Wednesday.

The area around the slide is still unstable so Wishstar doesn’t know what his family will do this winter.

“I don’t know if the freezing weather is going to help it if we can go back. Obviously, we need a road cut in. Even if it did freeze do we still go back? When it thaws again in spring, then it’s going to be wet again. Do we move back out? We’re not going to decide right now,” he said.

Sally Garton and Paul Graf also live on the far side of the Beach Road slide. Outfitted in clothing donated to the Salvation Army, the couple went to the community update meeting at the American Legion, hoping for news.

“There’s not much to do other than sit around and wait and watch it rain,” Graf said.

Garton is trying to stay busy with work but it’s hard not to worry.

“The hardest thing for me is the not knowing. Not knowing if the mountain is going to come down more and take out our house. Not knowing when we’re going to be able to go home. What’s going to be there when we get back?” she said.

With the seemingly never-ending rain, Graf worries they won’t even be able to get to their home to winterize it and take out the trash, which attracts bears that are still active around Haines.

“What it comes down to is we’re still standing here. All of those things can be fixed,” he said. “I just hope everybody else is okay. What we need most right now is patience and we can get through this,” Graf said.

Dec. 6 — 8:30 a.m.

Unrelenting rain, snow put more homes on evacuation notice

Late Saturday night, the Haines Borough advised people in town to be prepared to evacuate as snow quickly piled up. With warmer temperatures and more rain on the way, there could be more slides in the mountains that have been saturated over the past week.

Based on the geological data collected so far, one area of concern is from Piedad, which has already been evacuated, east toward Picture Point. In a Facebook post, borough staff urged people to have a bag packed with essentials.

They encouraged people to monitor their surroundings.

Key things to look for include pooling on the ground, cracks or shifting in homes, clogged culverts and debris on roadways.

Dec. 5 — 4:39 p.m.

Rain turned to snow; showers continue through Wednesday

Rain turned to snow Saturday night and quickly piled up around Haines.

National Weather Service senior meteorologist Nicole Ferrin said the town could get up to five inches overnight before temperatures rise again on Sunday. Another inch and a half of rain is expected over the next 24 hours.

“It’s still a concern because the slopes are so unstable,” Ferrin said about the landslide areas.

Haines Borough Manager Doug Olerud said the snow will make it easier for scientists to track the movement of the landslide. He said it could hamper search efforts, however.

“It’s going to definitely increase the potential for additional flooding and continue to make it unstable for searchers to get out,” he said.

There are continued showers through Wednesday.

“It would be really nice if that would stop. We really would like to catch a break, that would be nice,” Olerud said.

Dec. 5 — 2:35 p.m.

Heavy snow near the higher elevations, warnings extended

The Winter Storm Warning for the Klondike Highway above 2000 feet has been extended until 3 a.m. Monday. A total of 12-20 inches of snow is possible near White Pass. Lower elevations could expect 2 to 4 inches of snow by early Sunday morning.

Heavy, wet snow is expected around Haines throughout the day. The Winter Storm Warning for this area has also been extended until noon on Sunday. Total snowfall near Haines Border Customs is expected to be between 6 and 10 inches. Areas near sea level, including Haines, should look for 3 to 5 inches of snow. The heaviest snow totals will be west of Klukwan.

The Flash Flood Watch remains in place until Sunday night for Haines and Skagway. The rain and snow mean more debris flows and flooding are possible particularly near steep terrain through Saturday afternoon. An additional 2 to 3 inches of liquid precipitation is expected through the weekend.

Dec. 5 — 12:30 p.m.

Homes evacuated due to landslides

More than 50 homes in Haines have been evacuated because of landslides and communities around Alaska are stepping up to help people who have been displaced.

Haines Borough staff said they’ve received a large volume of donated goods and now the best way for people to pitch in is with monetary donations.

Haines Interim City Manager, Alekka Fullerton, said the online fundraising account started earlier this week has been transferred to the Salvation Army.

“The significance of this is that Go Fund Me will no longer take a percentage of that cost, which is great for Haines,” Fullerton said.

Fullerton said they’ve received in-kind donations from different companies to pay for things like oil and fuel for the helicopters.

“Haines really comes together in an emergency. We’re a very tight-knit community and it’s absolutely fundamental to our nature to help each other,” Fullerton said.

Dec. 5 — 12:00 p.m.

Shorelines filled with debris

The shorelines surrounding Haines are filled with debris from the landslide and the four homes that were destroyed.

Haines Interim City Manager, Alekka Fullerton, said people who want to help with cleanup efforts should take photos of any debris they find before bagging it. Each photo taken on a cellphone should have geolocation data to go with it.

“Anything of high value, jewelry or any memorabilia that anyone thinks someone might want to have we’re asking to bring it into the police department.”

The Haines Borough has yellow bags at its administration building that can be used for debris. The borough will pick up the cost of disposal at the landfill.

Haines shorelines filled with debris
Haines shorelines filled with debris(KTUU)
Haines shorelines filled with debris
Haines shorelines filled with debris(KTUU)
Haines shorelines filled with debris
Haines shorelines filled with debris(KTUU)

Dec. 5 — 10:30 a.m.

Search and rescue efforts continue into the weekend

Search and rescue efforts on the Beach Road landslide remain a top priority in Haines on Saturday morning.

Haines Interim City Manager, Alekka Fullerton, said geotechnical teams were able to plot several points along the slide that they’re checking up to eight times a day to see how the area is changing.

Rain continued to fall Saturday morning but there was a higher cloud ceiling.

Fullerton said volunteers want to take advantage of a weather window to get a helicopter out to do more searching and data collecting.

“The focus this morning is for one helicopter is to get out and kind of observe the entire valley. We’re opening it up to see if there are other threats we don’t even know about,” Fullerton said.

Search efforts will take place along the waterfront in front of the slide, by air and by boat.

“The majority of their current searching is with the dogs in the boats in front of the debris field, scanning radar and they’re trying to figure out what depth using nautical charts so they can get the information on how much debris is down there so they know what kind of debris field they’re dealing with,” said Haines Mayor Doug Olerud.

Olerud said another priority is to monitor other areas, like Young Road and Piedad, that were evacuated. It’s important for crews to collect data as soon as they can before the rain turns to snow and covers up the areas.

Dec. 5 — 10:00 a.m.

More rain, added snow, and concern of flash flooding

Saturday will bring more rain to the Haines area but expect it to mix with snow through much of the day. Heavy snow is expected—6 to 10 inches—for areas around the Klondike Highway and Haines Highway west of Klukwan. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for those areas from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

The rain and snow mean more debris flows and flooding are possible particularly near steep terrain through Saturday afternoon. A flash flood watch is in place until Sunday night for Haines and Skagway. An additional 2 to 3 inches of rain/wet snow is expected through the weekend.

Dec. 4 — 9:37 p.m.

An update from Alaska’s News Source reporter Sean Maguire in Haines

Dec. 4 — 8:18 p.m.

Red Cross helps displaced Haines residents

Sixteen Red Cross volunteers are helping displaced Haines residents by providing shelter, food, supplies and more.

The following locations in Haines have become emergency shelter locations:

  • Aspen Suites Hotel – 409 Main Street, Haines, Alaska
  • Captain’s Choice Motel – 108 2nd Avenue, Haines, Alaska
  • Eagles Nest Motel – 1069 Haines Highway, Haines, Alaska

A release from the Red Cross says all who are displaced are welcome. They ask those who need shelter to contact the Red Cross at their temporary office at the Aspen Suites Hotel.

Thirty-two people spent the night Thursday in a Red Cross shelter in Haines. Juneau Red Cross arrived Friday with more supplies and sheltering essentials.

Dec. 4 — 7:43 p.m.

Scientists survey landslide in area

Despite rainy, cloudy weather, scientists were able to fly a drone to survey the landslide area on Friday afternoon.

The Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Alekka Fullerton said the geologist and hydrologist have a good starting point but still need more information.

“They were able to find some areas of concern with regard to the Beach Road slide area. When they looked up they saw some fissures at the top that are causing them some concern and they need to look at that more tomorrow,” Fullerton said.

The Haines Borough evacuated a neighborhood of about 30 homes in the Piedad are on Thursday night. Fullerton said the data collected on Friday show that was the right call.

“We thank our community so much for listening and reacting so quickly,” Fullerton said.

Mayor Douglas Olerud said a second geotechnical team is scheduled to arrive on Saturday to help collect data as well.

“We don’t have confirmation it’s safe to bring people back to their houses so we’re asking people to be patient with us for a little bit longer until we can get some kind of clarification. We want them to be safe if they’re going to go home,” he said.

Dec. 4 — 7:00 p.m.

Young Road to be constructed on Saturday

Young Road will be worked on borough crews Saturday. Essential traffic will be allowed through by flaggers; traffic that is non-essential must avoid the road Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m.

Dec. 4 — 5:09 p.m.

Back to back storms deliver another round of heavy rain and snow to Southeast, warnings in effect

Flooding continues to be a concern across Southeast as back to back storms deliver additional rainfall. Haines picked up another 0.93 inches of rain today between midnight and 4 p.m. A third of an inch fell in Juneau and more than an inch fell in Ketchikan.

A flash flood watch is in effect through Sunday evening for the Northern Inner Channels, including Haines and Skagway. An additional two to three inches is likely through the weekend as another storm moves in out of the south. The National Weather Service warns additional debris flows and flooding are possible, especially near steep terrain.

While rain continues to fall at sea level, snow is falling in the mountains. A winter weather advisory is in effect for the Klondike Highway above 2,000 feet. Wet snow is expected until 9 p.m. Friday evening. This area will see 4-7 inches of snow.

Dec. 4 — 3:27 p.m.

Haines officials hold a press conference

“We are still in a position where damage is still being done,” Alekka Fullerton said at the media availability.

The hardest part is the overlapping emergencies, Fullerton said, about managing the pandemic and the landslides. The current priorities are the search and rescue of two missing people and management of the sewer and water systems.

“You’re dealing with that grief, but at the same time, you see your community come together,” Haines Mayor Douglas Orelud said, noting that mayors from surround communities and Alaska state leaders and leaders from the Yukon Territory have reached out to the community.

Orelud recommends residents photograph all the damage they find before making repairs.

Haines emergency operations center update

Watch live: Officials from the Haines emergency operations center are providing an update in the aftermath of numerous landslides and heavy rains in Southeast Alaska. Two people are still missing and damaged roads can be seen throughout the community. More here: https://bit.ly/37FE5a6

Posted by Alaska's News Source on Friday, December 4, 2020

Dec. 4 — 12:45 p.m.

LeConte ferry arrives in Haines carrying geologists, aid

Scientists from the Department of Natural Resources are in Haines to examine the landslide and determine when it will be safe for emergency crews to get into the area.

Dec. 4 — 11:48 a.m.

Geologists head to Haines to survey damage

A Department of Transportation and Public Facilities geotechnical engineer and a state geologists and hydrologist are on the LeConte ferry from Juneau to Haines this morning. They will survey the damage and study unstable slopes in the community.

Dec. 4 — 8:42 a.m.

Haines emergency operations asks people to not go to Haines

The Haines Borough Government posted a message from the emergency operations center on Facebook Friday morning, asking people who are not part of the organized emergency response in the area to not go to Haines.

The post adds that hotels are full and there are enough volunteers to help with the immediate needs of the community.

Dec. 4 — 7:12 a.m.

Understanding atmospheric rivers

Nearly three-quarters of the planet we call home is covered by water and one of the key features of transporting this water is atmospheric rivers. These rivers of moisture in the atmosphere can both provide the water supply to regions and inundate an area bringing catastrophic flooding.

Southeast Alaska is often the target for many of these powerful atmospheric rivers due to its location and topography.

Atmospheric rivers come in all shapes and sizes and on average are roughly 250 to 375 miles wide in the atmosphere, but...

Posted by Alaska's Weather Source on Friday, December 4, 2020

Read more: Rivers in the Sky: Understanding atmospheric rivers

Dec. 4 — 6:27 a.m.

Geologists, Salvation Army head to Haines

After weather conditions prevented people from flying to Haines Thursday, geologists and the Salvation Army are heading to Haines on the LeConte ferry from Juneau. The Salvation Army is sending a mobile canteen to the city to help distribute aid.

Dec. 4 — 6:05 a.m.

Record-breaking rain hits Southeast Alaska

Chief Meteorologist Melissa Frey says November ended in Juneau with rain 20 out of the 30 days last month, adding up to 6.95 inches. Meanwhile, from midnight on Tuesday to midnight on Wednesday Haines got 9.85 inches of rain. The area will likely see another three to four inches of precipitation through the weekend, with additional rain likely most of next week.

Read more: Extreme record-breaking rain hits Southeast with more to come

Dec. 3 — 8:12 p.m.

Haines police urge residents to evacuate certain areas

Haines police urge residents to evacuate all areas of Hooter Lane, the east side of the Catherdral View Drive adjacent to Cunningham Creek and the west side of Piedad which is adjacent to Cunningham Creek.

Police say a rising creek in the area is of concern, potentially triggering more slides. Residents can head to the American Legion for help.

Dec. 3 — 5:57 p.m.

Lutak Road will be closed Friday

Haines Borough Police Department says Lutak Road starting at the ferry terminal and to the end of the road will be closed on Friday during daylight hours as the city clears the roadway.

Dec. 3 — 5:00 p.m.

Search efforts suspended until Friday morning

Officials with Haines Emergency Operations said the search and rescue operations are suspended until Friday morning, where they will hopefully continue on land. Two people are still missing after Wednesday’s landslide.

On Thursday, Alekka Fullerton with the emergency operations said the U.S. Coast Guard had conducted helicopter searchers and dog teams were used in search efforts on the beach. Volunteers have not been able to put boots on the ground because the area is still considered at-risk for further sliding, Fullerton said.

Geologists who were expected to arrive in Haines to study the slopes were stuck in Juneau and are expected to arrive on Friday.

Haines Borough Police Department put out a community alert saying Beach Road extension is closed to the public and entering investigation the investigation scene could delay rescue attempts.

Dec. 3 — 4:58 p.m.

Winter weather advisory for Klondike Highway and Haines Highway issued

A winter weather advisory has been issued for the Klondike Highway to Skagway and the Haines Highway. The advisory for the Klondike Highway starts at 3 a.m. Friday and runs through 9 p.m. It is in place for elevations of 2,000 feet or more, where some 4 to 7 inches of snow could fall. Travel could be difficult on slippery roads.

The advisory for the Haines Highway is in place from 3 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday as the area could see 2 to 5 inches of snow.

Dec. 3 — 4:48 p.m.

Salvation Army canteen in transit to Haines

The Alaska Marine Highway is offering the Salvation Army a lift to help residents in Haines. Salvation Army Major John Brackenbury said they’ve agreed to transport the Salvation Army’s mobile food canteen from Juneau to Haines for free. Brackenbury said the canteen will primarily be used to feed first responders in Haines. It’s expected to arrive there at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.

Salvation Army is accepting donations for the Southeast Alaska winter storm response here.

The Salvation Army is sending a canteen vehicle to feed displaced people in Haines.
The Salvation Army is sending a canteen vehicle to feed displaced people in Haines.(Courtesy of Lessa Peter)

Dec. 3 — 3:36 p.m.

More rain in the forecast

There was a short break in the wet weather in Southeast Alaska on Thursday, giving residents in many communities a chance to assess damages and clear up debris.

However, more rain is on the way over the next several days and is expected to arrive in waves.

Rain begins Thursday night and snow will begin to mix in as temperatures drop into the evening. Haines could see up to 3 inches of snow by Friday.

Heavy rains return on Saturday and the wet weather regime lingers into next week.

Identities of 2 missing individuals confirmed

Haines Mayor Douglas Olerud has confirmed the identities of two people who are missing after a landslide was reported in the Beach Road extension area. David Simmons and Jenae Larson are still missing, and their homes were located in the landslide area.

Search and rescue is looking for several missing people after a large landslide in Haines.
Search and rescue is looking for several missing people after a large landslide in Haines.(USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexandria Preston)

Dec. 3 — 12:20 p.m.

Governor to sign a disaster declaration for Haines

In a Facebook post Thursday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said, “I have authorized Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to proceed with a disaster declaration for the Haines area. I will be signing a disaster declaration shortly. More resources and assistance are on the way for the people of Haines.”

Dec. 3 — 11:30 a.m.

GoFundMe created to help in Haines recovery efforts

Haines Mayor Douglas Olerud is asking people to consider donating to the Red Cross or a GoFundMe page created to help people who have lost their homes or seen significant damage to their homes because of the flooding and landslide. As of 11:30 a.m., the fund has raised close to $40,000 of its $200,000 goal.

As of this time, the mayor says there are no reports of any casualties.

Dec. 3 — 10:56 a.m.

Search and rescue has arrived with additional personnel on the way

Alaska Army National Guard has transported an Alaska State Trooper, three search dog teams and five Juneau Mountain rescue personnel on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to Haines. The crew arrived at 8:15 a.m. and a few stayed on board to conduct aerial observations.

The Alaska Army National Guard says four geologists and more search and rescue personnel will leave Juneau for Haines at 12:30 p.m.

Every person transported to Haines received a rapid COVID-19 test before departure, the Alaska Army National Guard said.

Alaska Army National Guard is responding to a landslide in Haines.
Alaska Army National Guard is responding to a landslide in Haines.(Alaska Army National Guard 1st Lt. David Marshall)

Dec. 3 — 10:43 a.m.

Over a dozen communities reported flooding damage

Jeremy Zidek, a public information officer at Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said 12 of the 30 communities contacted Wednesday are reporting some type of damage from significant landslides in Haines to minor flooding in other cities.

“The area has been pretty hard hit. An amazing amount of rain fell,” Zidek said. “The only request that we had for assistance as of yesterday was from Haines, for search and rescue.”

Zidek said Salvation Army, Red Cross and local partners are setting up shelters, and several rescue organizations have arrived in Haines Thursday morning. Geologists are also heading to Haines to get a better idea of how stable slopes in the community are.

Dec. 3 — 9:51 a.m.

Four of the six missing people have been found

Alaska State Troopers say two people are still missing Thursday following a landslide on Beach Road extension. Troopers say four people were found safe.

AST says rescue crews from Juneau and other areas are arriving in Haines to help with rescue efforts and other activities. Troopers add Alaska Department of Natural Resources geologists are traveling to the area Thursday to help ascertain the risk of searching the mudslide.

Dec. 3 — 9:05 a.m.

“Remember COVID and wear a mask”

The Haines Borough is asking emergency crews heading into the city to follow COVID-19 safety procedures.

Reminder: Emergency Resources coming into town today- remember COVID and wear a mask - Please protect yourself and our...

Posted by Haines Borough Government on Thursday, December 3, 2020

Dec. 3 — 8:35 a.m.

Haines Highway back open

Haine police say the Haines Highway is open but they are asking drivers to use caution. Police say Mud Bay is open and Lutak Road to the ferry terminal is open.

Dec. 3 — 7:14 a.m.

Counseling services offered for Haines residents

Haines police say counseling services are available all day at the American Legion for those who need it.

Dec. 3 — 7:12 a.m.

Local volunteers prepare to help in search efforts

Volunteer searcher Xavier Martinez, 37, spoke with Alaska’s News Source by phone outside the Haines Fire Department early Thursday morning.

By 7 a.m., Martinez estimated 50 to 60 people were assembled, a mix of volunteers and first responders. In the hours leading up to sunrise, Martinez said fire department personnel showed the volunteers how to tie safety knots in ropes. The teams were also waiting on helicopters to arrive with more rescuers, and for an all-clear from geologists about ground safety, said Martinez, a community volunteer.

Most of us, we’re here safe, you know. We’re safe in our homes, trailers, warm by our fires, eating our food, and there are people out there who are still missing. They are outside, scared, and for all intents and purposes they may not have been so lucky as we are,” Martinez said. “If I can do my part to help, and or find whomever, alive or deceased and bring closure to the families that need it, that would make me feel like I actually helped the community.”

The Wisconsin resident moved to Haines in July 2019. Out of work and getting by with the occasional handyman job, Martinez said he felt compelled to jump in and help, following the words of his late father, who died years ago close to Thanksgiving following an illness.

“The one thing he always told me, ‘Never let the next person that you see on the street or wherever it may be, never let them suffer. If there is one thing you can do to bring peace, closure, find happiness, it’s to make sure the next person you see or know about that is in danger, help them the best that you can,’” Martinez said.

Dec. 2 — 7:11 a.m.

U.S. Coast Guard heads to Haines following landslides

The U.S. Coast Guard says multiple units from Southeast Alaska are heading to Haines to help with emergency support following several reports of mudslides.

According to the Coast Guard, a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka, the crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Liberty and Anacapa and a Coast Guard Station Juneau 45-foot response boat crew has been launched.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau began launching assets at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Dec. 2 — 8:29 p.m.

Haines police urge residents to avoid travel unless necessary

An update from the Haines Borough Police Department says the left lane of Young Road is now open. They urge drivers to use extreme caution and not to travel unless it’s necessary.

Dec. 2 — 8:21 p.m.

Weather update for Haines from Alaska’s Weather Source

Six people in Haines are still missing after a landslide destroyed four homes, pushing them toward the ocean along with mud and trees. The threat of continuing landslides is considered as an additional 1-2 inches of rain is still in the forecast through tomorrow. Over 8 inches of rain has soaked Haines.

Officials are urging anyone living near steep terrain to be hyper-vigilant of increased danger. The ground is already saturated and considered unstable.

Heavy rains cause landslides, wash out roads in Haines, AK.
Heavy rains cause landslides, wash out roads in Haines, AK.(Alaska's Weather Source)

Dec. 2 — 7:16 p.m.

Haines Borough Police Department reports mudslide

A mudslide on the Haines Highway at mile 27 has been reported by the Haines Borough Police Department. There is one lane open northbound; police urge individuals use caution around the area.

Viewer Gabe Thomas submitted these photos of flooding in Haines.

Dec. 2 — 6:28 p.m.

State emergency operations respond to Haines landslides

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office has released a statement saying state public safety, emergency response and transportation teams are working with local officials in Haines.

“The natural disaster unfolding in Haines and the broader Southeast area has the full and complete attention of my administration,” Dunleavy said in a statement. “The Emergency Operations Center is monitoring the situation and assets from the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska National Guard are being mobilized to assist with search and rescue and recovery efforts in Haines. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haines tonight.”

The governor said crews are working on emergency road repairs and there is now limited access to the airport and the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry terminal.

Dec. 2 — 5:26 p.m.

Search and rescue suspended due to unstable ground

Alaska State Troopers say six people are missing and four houses have been destroyed after a landslide on Beach Road extension. The search and rescue operation has been suspended because of rumbling, unstable ground. Troopers say there are around nine feet of mud and trees covering the area of the landslide.

Search and rescue operations will resume tomorrow with Juneau troopers, Juneau Mountain Rescue, Capital City Fire Department medics and more arriving in Haines. The Army Guard will transport the agency but current turbulence has prevented the guard helo from flying.

Dec. 2 — 5 p.m.

National Weather Service issues flash flood warning for Haines

With heavy rain continuing to impact Haines, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning until 10 p.m. Wednesday. There have already been official reports of over 8 inches of rain in the region and law enforcement continues to report ongoing landslides across the area. With an additional 1-2 inches of rain expected through tomorrow morning, more landslides are likely to occur.

One of the biggest problems with the flooding is that the heavy rain has nowhere to seep into the soil, due to already saturated and frozen grounds. This creates the hazard as the water rushes in taking the soil and washing out the roads. Officials warn that the mudslides can consist of rock, mud, vegetation and other loose materials.

Alaska’s Weather Source says the heaviest rain will taper off after 3 a.m., giving way to light rain showers.

Dec. 2 — 4:57 p.m.

Aid available at the American Legion Post

The Haines Borough Police sent out a community alert saying meals, clothes and blankets are available to people in need and can be picked up at the American Legion post.

Dec. 2 — 3:40 p.m.

Haines mayor: Evacuations underway, unknown number of people missing after landslides

Haines Mayor Douglas Olerud said dozens of residents are being evacuated and some are believed to be missing after a landslide was reported in the Beach Road area. The mayor estimates there are 20-plus homes in that area.

Alaska State Troopers say a major landslide on Battery Hill has destroyed on house. Troopers are working to evacuate people and a search and rescue effort is underway to find people that are missing after the landslide.

Dec. 2 — 3:12 p.m.

Heavy rains cause widespread flooding, landslides

Heavy rain is causing widespread flooding, landslides and road washouts in Haines. The borough has declared an emergency for the area.

Emergency crews are currently responding to a large landslide that occurred above Beach Road. Search and rescue efforts are underway and officials are asking that those able to assist to assemble at the Fire Hall with gear immediately.

As of 3 p.m., 7.88″ of rain has fallen in Haines.

Dec. 2 — 1:30 p.m.

Flooding in Juneau after heavy rainfall

Wire Street in Juneau is flooded after heavy rainfall was reported Monday. Capital City Fire Rescue posted on Facebook that several roads were closed early Tuesday morning due to high water levels including Glacier Highway and Jordan Avenue. Fire Rescue also said the middle parts of Switzer Creek were blocked by mud and water.

Dec. 2 — 11:51 a.m.

Roads cave in Haines as heavy rains impact Southeast

Many roads and streets in Haines remain impassable as heavy rain continues to inundate the region. Since the onset of the heavy rain event Monday night, more than 7 inches of rain has fallen with more to be expected.

Interim Manager of Haines Borough Alekka Fullerton declared a flood emergency Wednesday morning, due to several roads remaining impassable or caving in. The borough is advising everyone to remain home while crews work on repairs to the damaged roads.

Flooding across Southeast Alaska
Flooding across Southeast Alaska(KTUU)

Multiple reports have come in of roads that remain either closed or damaged. One viewer reported to Alaska’s News Source that not only are roads being washed out or collapsing but that mudslides have caused significant damage to homes as well. The Haines Highway is closed due to black ice and snow covering the road, along with multiple trees causing road closures as well.

The Haines Borough has advised that all residents avoid the following roads due to closures:

  • Piedad Road
  • Young Road
  • Lutak Road 3.5 Mile
  • Beach Road
  • North 1st Ave.
  • Cathedral View
  • Soap Suds Alley

More rain is expected to fall throughout the day Wednesday and into the night and the borough is advising anyone to call 911 if you have an emergency. To report any damage you can call 766-6401 or fill out the form here.

Flooding across Southeast Alaska. Photo from Melissa Snell.
Flooding across Southeast Alaska. Photo from Melissa Snell.(KTUU)
Flooding across Southeast Alaska. Photo from Erik Stevens.
Flooding across Southeast Alaska. Photo from Erik Stevens.(KTUU)

In addition to Haines, much of Southeast is also seeing flooding with many spots likely seeing more than 10 inches of rain by week’s end. A flash flood watch remains in effect for Haines through 9 Thursday morning.

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