The Coast Guard is responding to rainfall-fueled landslides in Haines, shown here from a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk, on Dec. 3. (Lt. Erick Oredson/U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The Coast Guard is responding to rainfall-fueled landslides in Haines, shown here from a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk, on Dec. 3. (Lt. Erick Oredson/U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Alaska officials say landslide danger remains after storm

The Yukon government has said it is standing by to provide help if requested

The Yukon government said it is standing by if help is requested from neighbouring Alaskan towns who have been affected by massive flooding and snowmelt in the past week.

Premier Sandy Silver said the Alaska Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been in contact with the Yukon government, and that the territory has offered assistance.

“This offer was, as you can imagine, very well appreciated. They are working back and forth right now, and they will let us know if they want to take us up on our offer,” Silver said.

“Suffice it to say, Yukon will be there for Alaska,” he said.

Silver said the territory has a mutual aid agreement with Alaska and support is coordinated through the State Emergency Operations Centre. He said the Yukon escorted U.S. Army Reserve trucks to Haines when the highway was officially closed due to icy conditions.

On Dec. 8 the government confirmed that Haines Mayor Douglas Olerud has indicated that they have enough volunteers and no additional support is needed.

“He expressed concern about the unstable soil around Haines as rains continue and that more volunteers would just be more people put at risk. We will continue to monitor the situation and stand ready to support if called upon,” Yukon government spokesperson Matthew Cameron said.

Torrential rains prompted several landslides in the community last Wednesday. The largest, about 183 metres wide, took out four homes in the community of Haines.

David Simmons, 30, and Jenae Larson, 23, have been missing since the slide. The search has been suspended amid continued rain and the likelihood of additional slides, Alaska State Troopers said Dec. 7.

Ground searchers sent to Haines with troopers left Dec. 7, with one officer remaining to co-ordinate efforts with the borough police department and the incident command centre.

The agency would reevaluate search efforts if new information or evidence is located, troopers said in a web posting.

More than four dozen families have evacuated because of the conditions, and motels in the community of about 2,500 are full. Borough officials have encouraged nearly a third of the town’s residents to pack essentials and be ready to move on a moment’s notice as weather conditions deteriorated and the risk of landslides remained high.

NDP leader Kate White has also proposed a motion in the legislature to financially contribute to relief efforts. Individual Yukon residents have been contributing to fundraisers in support.

The Tourism Industry Association of Yukon donated $1,000 to relief efforts.

“Ties within the tourism industry are strong in the golden triangle of Haines, Whitehorse and Skagway. So this tragedy involves our friends and colleagues,” said president Neil Hartling.

Hartling described both Skagway and Haines as favourite destinations for many Yukoners. He said he’s been in communication with friends across the border who are dealing with washed-out roads and flooded basements.

“Not being able to go is something I think all Yukoners have all missed this year. Now of course, not being able to go in and help out in any way is a sad situation,” he said.

The heavy rains have caused damage in at least 12 communities, prompting local officials to seek disaster recovery assistance, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office said. Dunleavy declared a state of emergency Dec. 5 for communities affected by the severe storm that led to landslides, flooded buildings and roads, downed trees and caused power outages.

In the southeast Alaska community of Ketchikan, some residents were evacuated over fears of a dam failure. The residents were permitted to return home the night of Dec. 5 after rainfall slowed and the water level at Ketchikan Lakes fell to about 106 metres. Some residents grabbed surf boards to enjoy the one-metre surges.

With files from the Associated Press

Contact Haley Ritchie at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

The Liard First Nation is preparing to enter negotiations for self-governance with the territorial and federal governments. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
Liard First Nation preparing to enter self-governance negotiations with Yukon, federal governments

Chief Stephen Charlie seeking an agreement separate from “dead end” UFA


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 20, 2021

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

Most Read