Neighbors helping neighbors: Talkeetna residents dig each other out after heavy snowfall

Residents of the close-knit town of Talkeetna spent Thursday afternoon digging out after a warm winter storm blanketed the area with over 1' of snow.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:58 PM AKST
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TALKEETNA, Alaska (KTUU) - The Parks Highway was a mess of slush Thursday morning as the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities worked to clear the moderately traveled road. About five miles south of the Talkeetna Spur Road turnout, however, the landscape turned into a winter wonderland.

A winter weather advisory for the Northern Susitna Valley extending north from Talkeetna remains in effect until 5 p.m. Friday, with the highest snow accumulation between miles 120 and 180 along the highway.

Rocky Brown, a 14-year resident of the area who works at Nagley’s Store, said the snow started falling Tuesday evening and didn’t really stop until Thursday afternoon.

Brown and his partner Rayanne Orr live off Yancey Drive near Mile 90 of the Parks Highway. They said their road has been plowed once since the storm began but it was difficult getting out of their side roads.

“I don’t suspect they’re going to be back out there to plow until it stops,” Brown said. “But it is what it is — it’s Alaska, you get used to it.”

Snow was still steadily falling in Talkeetna Thursday morning, as Ron Hernandez worked to clear snow from his neighbor’s driveway.

“My neighbor had a problem, he couldn’t move the snow, and then my neighbor next to him had a medical issue,” Hernandez said. “The world’s full of a lot of negative and we have these little ways to give back some positive — and maybe this is one way I can do it.”

Hernandez operates Trapper John’s Cabins & Cottages, an overnight accommodations business that operates year-round in a town that largely shuts down after the tourist season comes to a close. He appreciates the sense of community Talkeetna has and was more than happy to help his neighbors in need of snow removal after his own experience in need of assistance.

“I’ve had people — that I know don’t like me — stop and help me fix my car at 20 below,” Hernandez said. “That’s how we glue ourselves together in the community. It’s really vital.”

Hernandez hand-measured about 16″ of snow had accumulated in his neighborhood, and wanted to get all the plowing done before forecasted rain fell on top of it — with temperatures expected to remain in the low 30s before dipping down into the single digits this weekend.