SITKA, Alaska — Volunteers helped direct transport people around a landslide in Sitka left mud, trees and debris blocking the road that links the city’s downtown to the ferry terminal and Old Sitka Dock, and several homes.
No one was injured and there was no property damage from the slide, which struck around noon on Monday. The highway was closed for about 10 hours as the Department of Transportation and city crews worked to clear it for traffic.
A makeshift system of volunteers went into effect to help transport people who had to get to or from the cruise ship dock and the Marine Highway dock. Cars headed outbound on Halibut Point Road were advised by the flagger at the landslide to go back to Centennial Hall where information was provided, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/2wFhoS7 ).
Allen Marine Tours in Juneau helped by providing boats and crews to carry passengers around the blockage so they could make the departure time of their ships.
Continuing rain prevented an immediate start to the road cleanup project.
Nearly 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) of rain — 2.77 inches (7.04 centimeters) — fell on Monday, with a half-inch of that recorded between 8 to 10 a.m.
Sitka Fire Chief Dave Miller was one of the first to arrive at the scene shortly after noon Monday.
“What I initially saw when I arrived was nothing,” he said. “It was raining so hard when I arrived you couldn’t see the landslide.”
Miller said all he saw was a bunch of trees lying across the road.
The slide was about 150 feet (45.7 meters) wide, roughly 20-30 feet (6-9 meters) deep in certain places.
Police and firefighters worked quickly to evacuate people. Residents were taken to the ferry terminal and the Sitka Sportsmen’s Association clubhouse, which quickly became makeshift shelters.
Department of Transportation is flying geologists to Sitka to assess slope conditions within the state’s right of way as well as at property that affects what happens in the right of way, Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Aurah Landau said.
“They’re looking at slope stabilization,” Landau said. “Anything they do will be centered around that.”