Communities Relieved As Storm Subsides

Two sentiments being expressed from coastal communities after the storm and ocean surges have subsided are relief and the importance of being prepared and organized.

Shishmaref mayor Howard Weyiouanna says all storm and flood warnings were canceled this morning for the area. He says high surfs started Wednesday afternoon and lasted until 4 this morning, resulting in significant erosion.

“Mostly during the evening we did lose a lot of ground on the west of our community right where the first rock revetment was placed. We lost 20 to 30 feet of erosion ground,” Weyiouanna said.

Weyiouanna says the ocean ate into the corner of the rock revetment and is now less than 100 feet from three homes. He says in the past ice formed in mid to late October but the Chukchi is still ice free.

In Kivalina, city council member Colleen Swan says things have settled down and are quiet now, but Wednesday evening the ocean crashed through the south end channel into the lagoon. She says it broke up the lagoon ice and was gauged at about 25 miles per hour and people began moving elders and children to the school. She says children in the community are stressed by the event and after the evacuation of 2007, she says her 12 year old son gets scared by storms.

“That never leaves his mind, every time we get a storm he asks me are we going to be evacuated and you hear that when you run into children on the street or children at the school. It had a very lasting impression on them and it’s a very stressful time for them,” Swan said.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori