In the Haines landslide, six out of six missing dreadlocks were found safe

The landslide in Haines swept houses, trees and debris along Wednesday Road across the beach to the bay in front of the city (Photo: courtesy of Greg Bigsby)

Seekers continue to search for two people on Thursday who are still missing after a major landslide rumbled and at least four houses collapsed on Wednesday afternoon in a residential area of ​​Beach Road in Haines, Alaska state troops say.

On Thursday morning, Haines Mayor Douglas Olerud identified the two missing residents. They are Jenae Larson and David Simmons.

– The side of the mountain pushed them completely down to the waterline and into the water. The water was full of debris from the pieces of the house, ”said Al Giddings, Haines fire chief. “While we were on the scene, the ground began to roar again like a locomotive.

Eyewitnesses estimate the slide to be hundreds of meters. Muddy smear on the side of the mountain south of Haines. Home debris drifted down the Lynn Canal below as the light faded on Wednesday.

Searchers suspended the operation late Wednesday as the slide continued to move. Originally, six people were feared missing, but four were found safe by Thursday morning. According to the military, nine meters of mud and trees covered the area. The surrounding homes were evacuated and a helicopter was planned to be installed at sunrise to continue the aerial survey.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the Alaska Army National Guard in Juneau is preparing to transport search and rescue personnel to Haines on Thursday, December 3, 2020.

The record rainstorm brought at least eight inches of rain in 48 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday, and the rain continued overnight. Heavy rain melted the mountains in the highlands and saturated the soil, contributing to the instability of the hillside.

Governor Mike Dunleavy sent thoughts and prayers “along with the resources of Alaska state troops and the Alaska National Guard,” according to a statement Wednesday night. According to Giddings, a mountain rescue team and up to eight members of Juneau’s capital fire / rescue work have been activated, as have staff from Sitka, Skagway and other communities. The Coast Guard will also help, along with local volunteers.

On Wednesday night, Giddings erected a command center for the public security building in downtown Haines. As commander of the incident, he coordinates the efforts as help comes from across the region.

“We have unconfirmed six people who are not accounted for. But two confirmed that these are not accounted for. So that’s it. “We’re not losing hope,” he said.

Kevin Woods, Captain of the Salvation Army, spent Wednesday helping refugees find refuge. He then washed his way and a neighbor picked him up and his wife along the highway.

“We worked to get people to the motels, get food and dry clothes, and to make them as comfortable as possible,” he said.

Woods estimates that 20 hotel rooms are occupied by displaced residents.

A mobile canteen – a special disaster vehicle – departs from Juneau to help feed the victims of the natural disaster.

Public transport road personnel are actively working to improve the highway and flow supplies. Dozens of roads have been damaged or obstructed by flooding and fallen trees.

The National Meteorological Service forecasts a mix of rain and snow for the rest of the week.

Editor Julia O’Malley contributed to the Anchorage report.