Residents of Alaskan village want to flee erosion


The residents of village of Shishmaref, Alaska, population 600, held a referendum last week, in which they voted to move away from their community’s eroding site and escape the violent storms from the Chukchi Sea, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Shishmaref is on a sandy barrier island on Alaska’s Arctic coast, about 1,000 kilometres northwest of Anchorage.

The village has struggled with erosion for decades, but in recent years storms have undercut permafrost, eaten at the shoreline and swallowed roads. After a storm ravaged Shishmaref last year, the town closed off one street located on unstable ground.

Alaska declared a disaster after the storm and paid for a sea wall made from sandbags piled in wire mesh.

But relocating Sishmaref would cost millions of dollars, and no one knows where the money would come from.

Several other towns along Alaska’s west, northwest and Arctic coasts face equally serious erosion problems.

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