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Rural Alaska

A few Akiak residents consider staying in homes threatened by erosion

  • Author: Associated Press
  • Updated: June 26
  • Published June 26

Erosion in Akiak swallowed 75 to 100 feet of Kuskokwim River banks along the village on May 20, 2019. (Ivan Ivan / City of Akiak via KYUK News)

AKIAK - Alaska residents living near a riverbank threatened by erosion are facing a choice of whether to move, and some want to remain in their homes, a report said.

Six houses in Akiak are within 100 feet of the Kuskokwim River, with one home 20 feet from the water, KYUK-AM reported Tuesday.

Erosion caused a one-mile section of the embankment to fall into the river last month and the community of about 350 people northeast of Bethel is attempting to find relocation money.

Akiak officials are working on a hazard mitigation plan in the hopes it will become eligible for state disaster funding this year.

Peter Gilila said moving his house will cost almost $100,000, while adding utilities will compound the cost.

Gilila owns one of the homes closest to the river and said he will remain as long as there is running water, because the river water is contaminated.

He is prepared to rebuild rather than relocate.

"Because I can rebuild. And that's what we do, that's what we've always been doing: rebuilding. This is not a new situation for me," Gilila said.

City Administrator David Gilila, Peter's brother, has been working to secure funds to move the homes closest to the river.

"I wouldn't move either," David Gilila said. "That's where we grew up."

Arnold Williams fears the possible loss of his home and works to place sandbags and secure tarps to support the eroding riverbank.

Williams tells his neighbors, “You wanna save your family, you wanna save your house, move it.”

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