Hiland Road avalanche leaves residents behind the slide path figuring out what to do next

Residents impacted by the avalanche on Hiland Road have spent the day thinking about what’s next as they wait for crews to clear the snow.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 8:33 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Residents living in the Eagle River area impacted by the avalanche on Hiland Road have spent the day thinking about what’s next as they wait for crews to clear the massive roadblock and restore power to the area.

The avalanche, reported Thursday night, is covering a section of the road and is reportedly up to 40 feet deep in areas. It also knocked out power to more than 100 customers in the area.

Among those affected by the slide was Eagle River resident Trevor Staples. When Staples went to bed on Thursday night, he said he and his wife heard what sounded like loud rain.

“Last night we heard some sounds. We suspected maybe there was an avalanche, like (around) 11:30, but we were just in bed so we just slept through the night,” Staples said. “But our power was out so we were kind of like, is it the wind? Is it the snow coming down?”

This morning, those noises Staples and his wife heard proved to be an avalanche. They went outside and talked with neighbors, and found out it could be days until crews would be able to clear the road so Staples, his wife, and dog decided to walk across the avalanche debris covering the road meeting friends on the other side.

“We just decided we would stay at a friend’s house while the power’s out because they say it could be a week maybe, depending on how long it takes to clear the snow,” Staples said.

The Anchorage Police Department asks people to avoid the area, and to not drive snowmachines on the avalanche as the snow may be unstable. The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management also issued an alert asking people not to approach or cross the avalanche.

“Road access is unavailable and an alternate route is set up for emergency access,” the alert states. “Residents are asked to shelter in place away from area avalanche slide zones and await further instructions.”

Staples said his family just moved to the neighborhood from Utah about a year ago and was told when they bought the house they were in or just outside of an avalanche zone. Even neighbors who’ve lived in the Hiland Road area for a lifetime said they’d never seen an avalanche like the one on Friday.

“That pile of snow is solid,” said Hiland Road resident Eric Stice. “We’ve had a few avalanches up here in the 35 years since we’ve built our house, and none of them this big. None. This is amazing to see that.”

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