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Photos: First day of school in flood-ravaged Galena

New students attend orientation on the day before the first day of school in Galena. The Galena Interior Learning Academy is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students make new friends and reconnect with old ones the day before classes begin in Galena. The Galena Interior Learning Academy is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
New students get a tour of the campus the day before classes start. The Galena Interior Learning Academy is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
New students get a tour of the campus the day before classes start. The Galena Interior Learning Academy is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
New students attend orientation on the day before the first day of school in Galena. The Galena Interior Learning Academy is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
New students get a tour of the campus the day before classes start. The Galena Interior Learning Academy is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students from across Alaska make new friends during orientation day at the Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA). GILA is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students from across Alaska make new friends during orientation day at the Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA). GILA is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students from across Alaska make new friends during orientation day at the Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA). GILA is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students ride back to their dorms at the Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA) after a trip to the village store. GILA is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students wait to board a school bus on the first day of school in Galena. The Galena Interior Learning Academy, one of two schools in the village, is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students board a school bus on the first day of school in Galena. The Galena Interior Learning Academy, one of two schools in the village, is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Students hang out during evening free time in the dorms at the Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA). GILA is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
The day before school starts, students explore campus at the Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA). GILA is a rural boarding school that offers programs in aviation, automotive technology, cosmetology, and culinary arts. The campus, located on the former Air Force Base, was not damaged during the spring flood and served as an essential shelter during the recovery. Sept 8, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Laurel Andrews

State officials are now calling the Yukon River flooding of spring 2013 -- which also flooded the communities of Circle, Eagle, Fort Yukon and Hughes -- one of the worst natural disasters to strike Alaskans since 1964, when the Good Friday earthquake ravaged Anchorage and Southcentral.

The spring flooding left almost every structure in the Interior Alaska community of Galena damaged in its wake. Yet life in the bush community of about 500 people, where residents face brutally cold winters, and where the only way in or out is by boat or plane, necessitate a can-do attitude, one where folks can spot opportunity from a mile away, even after rampant devastation. This eye for opportunity is nowhere more apparent than within the Galena school system, and at the Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA), the town’s boarding school.

In the aftermath of the flood, GILA dorms and dining hall became the lifeline for displaced residents, housing and feeding residents who had nowhere else to go. While nearly every structure in the community was in some way damaged by the flood, GILA was spared, thanks to a dike wall that surrounds the airport, the school and some BLM buildings. Now, the Galena school system offers another kind of shelter for the community -- a return to normalcy, an economic driver, and the opportunity for students to pursue an education.

Read more: Galena school a beacon of hope among the flood waters