Landslide, flooding forces evacuation of Dyea

Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A landslide triggered a flood that forced the evacuation of at least 25 people from the small town of Dyea near Skagway on Tuesday.

No one was injured in the town, which has a year-round population of about 20 people, and the water had begun to recede by mid-afternoon, officials said.

But an emergency shelter was set up at the Skagway City School and vans were sent to pick up people left in Dyea, said Skagway City Manager Bob Ward.

''We have declared a local emergency and are working on a risk assessment,'' Ward said. ''All the residents have been accounted for.''

The landslide occurred early Tuesday when a 700-feet high moraine fell into an unnamed lake at the base of the West Creek Glacier.

Lance Pape, a geologist who flew over the area, said a sudden surge sent a volume of water down the West Creek drainage. It caused the Taiya River to rise, cresting at 21 feet by 7 a.m. Tuesday before subsiding, Ward said.

Eric Hosford, who was staying in his family's cabin near the river, said he was awakened by a friend at about 6 a.m. and noticed water rising around them.

''When we got out, everything was submerged, there was no land to walk on,'' Hosford said. In some areas the water was above waist-deep and the two escaped by driving their Blazer on the uphill side the road, he said.

The road from Skagway to Dyea is closed and tours into the area have been canceled until further notice, Ward said.

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