Only Road to Alaskan City Turns Into Lake

Avalanches leave Valdez cut off
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2014 12:16 AM CST
Updated Jan 28, 2014 2:15 AM CST
This photo provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities shows multiple avalanches that crossed the Richardson Highway in the Thompson Pass region of Valdez.   (AP Photo/Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities)
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(Newser) – The 4,100 residents of Valdez, Alaska, could be stuck there for a while: Two giant avalanches and multiple smaller ones have cut the city off, creating a half-mile lake behind a snow dam on top of the only road into town, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The risk of a water surge is preventing work crews from moving in, and road access probably won't be restored to the city at the end of the trans-Alaskan pipeline for at least a week. The avalanche debris field is believed to be 100 feet deep and at least 1,000 feet long.

But officials say the city is taking it all in its stride and residents aren't completely trapped. Extra flights to Anchorage have been added and state ferries have been scheduled for people who want to leave with cars. The town says it has plenty of food and fuel on hand, but more can be brought in by barge if necessary, CNN reports. To make conditions safer for highway crews, workers have been using 105-mm howitzer and 50-pound bags of explosives dropped from helicopters to trigger avalanches in risky areas. (Read more Alaska stories.)

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