Newtok moves first families into new homes in Mertarvik

The first residents moved into Mertarvik last weekend. About a third of Newtok, the ones closest to the erosion and flooding, will move across the river to the new village throughout this month. (Photo by Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)

It was 20 years coming, but it finally began this weekend: the first residents of Mertarvik moved into their new homes. 

The village of Newtok has been eroding for decades, but now the river is knocking on people’s doors. Several homes have already been torn down to avoid falling into the water.

Albertina Charles lived in one of those demolished homes. And now that she’s moved across the river, up the hill to Mertarvik and away from the community she knew, her feelings are complicated.  

“For real, it’s not going to be same living here,” Charles said. “But we’ll get used to it. We’ll get used to living here.”

Throughout this month, over 130 people from Newtok, roughly a third of the village, will cross the Ninglick River to pioneer Mertarvik, their new home.