Wednesday, August 23, 2006

198. Hooper Bay

In Deering, I wondered what would happen if there was a fire. We had no fire department, no fire hydrants, everything was made of wood, and there was little water.

Hooper Bay is a Yupik village about nine times the size of Deering. Earlier his month, a few kids were playing with matches in the elementary school. The school caught on fire which spread through the village. The local troopers evacuated the people. The state of Alaska sent fire-dropping helicopters to put out the fire.

Fifteen acres of the city were destroyed before the fire was extinguished. This included twelve homes, the elementary school, the high school, the teacher housing complex, a few stores, some offices, and some storage units. Damages exceed 30 million dollars.

Fortunately, no people were hurt, although over 70 are now homeless. Also fortunately, the fire did not make it to the fuel tank, missing it by 300 feet. Cleanup volunteers have flown in from all over the state.

They began building a new school, but it is not expected to be completed until January. Some modular building supplies have been shipped by boat out of Seattle and hopefully should arrive before the ocean freezes.

Hooper Bay had no library, and most of the village relied on the schools' book supplies. The sate is having a book drive. The library had collection boxes. Many of the local book stores sell books to be donated at a discount (although if the bookstores were really sincere, they'd sell them wholesale).

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