Bush Alaska

Our week: We’ll start with Christmas. Mundane, and good. But woke up with a sinus infection starting. Blech. Blizzard warning out since Friday through Monday afternoon. Sustained winds all weekend of 50 mph. Gusting up to 60. North wind, blowing sea spray onto the village, at or below 0 temps.

Sunday: Skip church, don’t feel that great. Winds are nasty. Power flashes on and off all evening.

Monday: Get a phone call at 4:14 a.m. “Do you guys have heat and power?” Why, yes, we do. “Can I come over. My place is cold.” Another teacher. Uh, sure. The couch is yours. Can I go back to sleep now? Wake up to discover that the whole ENTIRE village lost power overnight. Except us. (Apparently our circuit is a direct one from the old school that used to have a generator that would backfeed electricity to the rest of the village when the main line went out. Lucky us.)
Monday: Amidst random power outages, our power stays on. The rest of the village, not so much. Some people have generators. I call the clinic. No power. No appointments. Make an appointment for Tuesday morning hoping power will be restored.
Monday night: The school has a backup generator that 1/2 powers the school so essential functions (heat, limited power, limited water) can happen. People flock to the school for a warm place to stay. FEMA authorizes water and chips to be distributed from the school store. Slumber party with remaining teachers at my house. 🙂 Levi was excited to have house guests.

Tuesday: Go in for my clinic appointment. No appointments due to no electricity and heat and water. Linesman arrives from AVEC (power company) to restore power to the village when it gets light enough for airplanes to land. Random outages, most of the village remains in the dark. Try to get ahold of my Family Doc to to a virtual house call. Cell phones are down. Internet not working properly. 12 transformers are blown due to sea ice and wind. On the plus side, the ocean is now frozen over so salt spray is no longer an issue. Teacher housing power is restored in the evening by the old school. New teacher housing, not so much.

Wednesday: Much the same as Tuesday. Send more linesmen out. Most/some of the village power is restored to residential units. Clinic, school, store, all still out of power. Frozen pipes everywhere. People still being housed at the school. Red Cross is supposed to be bringing in emergency provisions and supplies.

Thursday: Finally get through to my doctor in Nome to get meds out to me. After several dropped skype phone calls, get the pharmacy to send the meds COD to the Post Office. Winds pick up again. 3 transformers still down. By evening, one was fixed. Flights got cancelled from Nome on account of winds. That means my meds did not make it in. 🙁 Thursday around 5, Keith hears arcing in the laundry room. “Get the fire extinguisher!” (Note to self for future reference: the correct response is not, “Why, what’s going on?”) Dryer is on fire!!! Extinguisher located, fire extinguished. Washer/dryer unit now outside. Wet clothes in tub frozen outside, awaiting new washer/dryer unit, since teacher housing, though they have heat and electricity, don’t have water due to it freezing in pipes and bursting. Except my house. Showers at my house. Thankful that I still have a house.

Friday: Winds have died down again. Haven’t heard any planes yet, but hopeful that the planes and my meds make it today. Hopeful that new washer/dryer unit comes today. Trying to make contact with all the teachers who are out of town to let them be aware of the situation here. Keith is trying to help restore water to the teacher housing. School still out of electricty. Store closed for at least a week. Clinic indefinite: emergencies only.

News articles about Savoonga: Alaska Daily News
Apparently, we made CNN news I’ve heard, but can’t find an article.