Work begins clearing avalanche debris on Hiland Road

Officials say Eagle River road likely won’t be completely clear for two weeks
Officials say Eagle River road likely won’t be completely clear for two weeks
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 12:58 PM AKDT
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EAGLE RIVER, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management reported in a Facebook post that work has begun to begin clearing the pile of snow that resulted from a Thursday night avalanche and crossed Hiland Road near Eagle River, cutting off more than 100 residents from leaving.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson declared a disaster on Saturday, and issued an evacuation order on Sunday so that avalanche specialists could drop explosives on the remaining snowpack from a helicopter in order to mitigate the possibility of additional avalanches. Residents were allowed back to their homes later on Sunday after the mitigation work with a warning from the municipality that the snowpack is still potentially unstable.

“The public should be aware of increased truck traffic on the road and are reminded to stay clear of the immediate slide area,” the Office of Emergency Management wrote. “Plans are being made to restore temporary power to the remaining impacted homes.”

Residents were evacuated from their homes on Sunday in order for the mitigation work to take place, following a press conference from Municipal Manager Amy Demboski and Assistant Anchorage Fire Department Chief Alex Boyd on Hiland Road.

“The size of this avalanche is massive,” Demboski said. “It has been described by avalanche experts as a once-in-100-year event.”

Matanuska Electric Association was also still dealing with delivering power back to customers in the area. As of Saturday afternoon, the company said it still had around 40 customer homes without power, and according to a power outage map provided by the company, that number hadn’t changed much by Monday.

The Office of Emergency Management wrote that it may take up to two weeks to clear snow. An emergency shelter has been set up at the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center to house residents who may be displaced, and the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department have been shuttling residents across the debris via snowmachine.

“The Hiland residents supported each other through what started as an incredibly scary event that could have turned to a very tragic event but now has turned into a happy ending and they should be proud of how they handled it all,” said Jamie Allard, an Eagle River representative on the Anchorage Assembly, in a press release.

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