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9/14/2007

Alaskans Flee Village Under Flood Threat



BREAKING EARTH NEWS

Alaska, USA
More than half the residents of an isolated Arctic village were evacuated as storm surges threatened to flood their slender barrier island Thursday, the latest chapter in their losing battle against the sea. With no road system within hundreds of miles of Kivalina, about 100 people, mostly seniors and children, boarded small propeller planes to the regional hub city of Kotzebue. More than 100 others embarked on a grueling 70-mile nighttime journey by boat, all-terrain vehicle and bus to shelter at the mountain headquarters of a zinc mine. The National Weather Service predicted storm surges Thursday afternoon as the tide rises and winds strengthen to 25-40 mph. It was the only inhabited area under the flood warning along the Chukchi Sea, but is one of three villages along Alaska's storm-battered western coast that probably will have to be moved within the next 10 to 15 years because of erosion. "The people have lost their peace of mind. Since the village started eroding, we have lost a lot of land and people have become fearful of the fall storms." A storm last year tore away a portion of a wall soon after it was completed.
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