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Success Stories: Back to Normal in Eagle

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Release date: 
August 3, 2009
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The residents of Eagle, Alaska, are slowly getting their lives back to normal after having them turned upside down during the spring 2009 flooding and ice jams, which began May 4.

Saturday night, July 25, they had a hoe down and dance to take their minds off the ways in which life in Eagle will never be the same again and to celebrate the re-building of this special community on the Yukon River (Figure 1).

People in Eagle rely on fish heavily to make it through the year. Catching and preserving fish is one of summer's most critical activities. Fish provide food for people and sled dogs throughout the long, frigid winter. With help from volunteers, structures like fish wheels and smoke houses that support this subsistence life style are being repaired and re-built (Figure 2).

The Eagle Mall is an open-air market that sells jewelry and other crafts to tourists in the summer. The Holland America Yukon River tours stop in Eagle and provide an important source of income for Eagle residents. Tours were about three weeks late getting started this year. The villages they visit along the river were struggling to get ready for tourists. In addition, the Yukon Queen II, the tour boat that had been stored in Eagle for the winter, was badly damaged by the ice jam (Figure 3).

A lot of extra people are in town now: tourists from the boats, volunteers and disaster relief workers. These people are helping make up for the business lost at the beginning of the season.

As re-building continues, life in Eagle is gradually getting back to normal. But it's a new normal. The Eagle that existed before the flood is gone forever. Out of the destruction, a new spirit has arisen. Depression and despair are being replaced by hope, and a sense of a community that is more tightly knit than ever before is emerging.

Fact Sheet

  • Life in Eagle, Alaska, is slowly getting back to normal after the flooding and ice jams beginning May 4, 2009.
  • Fish wheels and smoke houses are being repaired and re-built.
  • The Holland America Yukon River tour boat, Yukon Queen II, which was badly damaged by the ice jam, is back in service.
  • Even though tours were about three weeks late getting started this year, tourists, volunteers and disaster relief workers are now visiting the Eagle Mall crafts market.
  • Depression and despair are being replaced by hope.
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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