After four days, power returns to village of Aniak

After four days without power to half the town, the village of Aniak’s electricity was restored Saturday afternoon.

The village of Aniak lost power Saturday, and electricity was restored for about half the village within hours, but the other half of the town scrambled to move meat into working freezers. Power for the rest of Aniak has been restored. (Photo by Adrian Wagner, KYUK - Bethel)
The village of Aniak lost power Saturday, and electricity was restored for about half the village within hours, but the other half of the town scrambled to move meat into working freezers. Power for the rest of Aniak has been restored. (Photo by Adrian Wagner, KYUK – Bethel)

Power returned within hours of the initial outage for half of the town, but the other half was left to deal with freezers full of thawing food.

Laura Simeon, the tribal administrator in Aniak, lost power and she said outages like this have happened several times already this year, though never for this long.

“My big concern is what if this had happened during the winter?” Simeon said. “A lot of the housing here, especially in the housing areas, they run from heating boards or from monitors and those run from electricity.”

Simeon charged her phone at a neighbors house during the outage and started making calls to connect people without power to freezers and showers that they could use.

“People from downtown had space available in their freezers for people that needed to move some of their fish and meat they had stored,” Simeon said.

The school district pitched in with their industrial freezers, and Simeon said she thinks little food was lost in the end, but after this outage she doesn’t have much faith in the power company.

“It’s kinda sad when you have a sudden power outage and your own electric company don’t know or cannot locate the problem,” Simeon said.

Darlene Holmberg, manager at the power station, said residents don’t understand how difficult the process was to identify and fix the problem.

The cause of the outage was an electrical line under the airport runway that had a short, Holmberg said.

“They’re hard to locate when they’re underground,” Holmberg said. “You have an idea from point A to point B, but you can’t always pinpoint the point that needs repair.”

Holmberg, who didn’t lose power in her own home, is sympathetic toward the other half of the village, but also said that there is nothing the electric company could have done differently.

As for Simeon, she’s advising people to buy a generator.

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