Napakiak faces accelerating erosion

Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Part 1: For as long as anyone remembers, Napakiak has been retreating from the Kuskokwim River. The village of about 400 people sits on a bend in the river, and every year that bend grows deeper. As the land has fallen away, Napakiak has picked up its homes and buildings and moved them farther from the water.

Part 2: The Kuskokwim River is getting too close to the Napakiak school. Currently frozen, it sits about 150 feet from the school fuel tanks. School district officials expect the water to reach the structures before new ones can be built: Here’s how school staff members are approaching the issue.

Part 3: Napakiak needs a new school. As of Dec. 3, the Kuskokwim River is less than 200 feet from the current building. The school building is too big and too old to move, and the question is when, not if, the water will overtake the ground beneath it.

Part 4: The Napakiak City, Tribe, and Native Village Corporation have worked together to fund and coordinate the effort to escape the erosion. But the erosion is accelerating and threatening critical infrastructure that’s too big for the community to move on its own. Now it’s seeking outside funding to help.