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Alaskan Villages Holding on through Epic Storm

SHAKTOOLIK, AK (November 10, 2011) – Slush has helped to stave off heavy damage in this small village as an “epic storm” slammed into much of western Alaska in recent days, the mayor told Anchorage TV station KTUU on Wednesday.

The village of little more than 200 people is one of several in the storm’s path that contain Covenant churches. It is located 125 miles east of Nome on the shore of Norton Sound. Other communities affected include Unalakleet, Golovin, Scammon Bay, and the city of Nome.

The National Weather Service has said the “Bering Sea Superstorm” is as powerful as a Category III hurricane and one of the worst on record for the region. The swirling storm is twice the size of Texas.

So far, no deaths have been reported.

Driftwood and heavy slush have served as a barrier to the storm surge that has reached as high as 10 feet in some parts of the coastline, said Mayor Eugene Asicksik.

The coastline village is located at sea level, and officials fear that the surge could cause heavy erosion, and even possibly destroy Shaktoolik.

Although the town has weathered the storm so far, the danger has not passed, the mayor said, adding, “There’s isn’t anywhere high to go in Shaktoolik. If we try and evacuate we’d be evacuating into the storm.”

The epic storm left a trail of damage in Scammon Bay, where it stripped off roofing and siding from several houses and even flung a 40-foot container van into a lake.

“That’s going to be fun getting that out,” said George Smith, a search and rescue volunteer in the Yup’ik village, who spoke with the Alaska Dispatch.

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