Ayaprun School still without power, water

No further damage since Thursday fire burned power plant near Ayaprun School
FastCast digital headlines for Monday, Jan. 30, 2023
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 2:18 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2023 at 2:21 PM AKST
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NEWTOK, Alaska (KTUU) - The village of Newtok in Southwest Alaska has been without electricity since Jan. 26 when the building housing the power plant burned.

While there is no running water in Newtok, villagers had been collecting water from the school up until Thursday when the power plant building burned down. Ayaprun School Principal Dawn Lloyd said that no additional damage had occurred after Thursday night. Lloyd said that the students at Ayaprun will learn remotely until a new generator can be brought in and provide power to the school.

“The school has no electricity, no water, no nothing. The generator completely burned. We had a primary and a backup generator but they’re both gone,” Lloyd said. “We’re looking at getting a new generator as quickly as possible. The village has been very helpful and they’re brainstorming alternatives and ways they can help us.”

Approximately 350 people live in Newtok. The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is working to assist the village in restoring power. A Winter Weather Warning is in currently in effect for the Yukon Delta until 6 p.m. Monday.

“Last week, the school district sent in a strike team who tried to connect some generators to the school’s electrical system but were unsuccessful. They made the decision to drain the lines at the school,” DHSEM Public Information Officer Jeremy Zidek said. “The community has been able to access some water stored at the water plant. This water bypass effort is meeting the needs of the community at this time. A DEC issued boil water notice is in effect. We are still working with partners to get bottled water delivered.”

Lloyd said that they will not know if any damage has occurred to the school’s pipes until a new generator can be brought in and water can begin flowing again. Lloyd also said that in a typical week, one or two people would stay at the school to avoid the impacts of inclement weather in houses that may not withstand strong winds. Without water and power, the school cannot serve as an evacuation center until power is restored.

“There is no other damage,” Lloyd said. “Thank whatever God you believe in that the wind was blowing in the right direction, because if it had been blowing a different direction we would have lost the school, which would have probably spread to houses, which would have spread to more houses, and I don’t even want to think what would have happened, but fortunately the wind was blowing away from everything.”

Zidek said that the weather has prevented flights into the village over the weekend.