This article has been moved in front of the Juneau Empire’s paywall. More information will be added as more is known. The Red Cross is supporting residents impacted by the landslide and the surrounding evacuation order. Those in need of services should contact Taylor Sausen at 1-800-RED-CROSS.
A landslide during a heavy rainstorm Monday evening knocked a tree down across Gastineau Avenue, destroying a power pole that resulted in power outages around Juneau and causing other wreckage on the residential street. Police closed off the street and firefighters asked residents to evacuate homes along the street and down to Franklin Avenue for what is expected to be at least 24 hours.
The landslide damaged two homes in the area, according to the City and Borough of Juneau, but here were no immediate reports of injuries. People were asked to stay at least a block away from the slide area. Street crews are expected to clear the area Tuesday morning when there is daylight, according to the city. When enough debris is cleared Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. will work to restore power to the area.
In a tweet, AEL&P stated power had been restored to all areas except for the downtown area affected by the slide.
Evan Hartung said he was eating dinner and watching television at the house he rents at 175 Gastineau Ave. — among the closest homes to the tree — when he heard a rumbling sound outside and just managed to escape as the tree fell onto the stairs along the outside of the house. But while he and — at first glance — the home appeared to avoid major damage, it knocked a telephone pole halfway over and caused other wreckage.
“My truck is squished,” he said.
Sarah Wallace said she and her partner were at home next door when she heard the noise, and looked out and saw Hartung making his escape.
“When we saw him out the window he was running outside without any shoes,” she said, prompting her and her partner to get outside immediately as well.
Firefighters knocked on doors along the street to tell residents about the evacuation and made those standing outside watching the commotion move well away from the landslide area. Both Hartung and Wallace said they had a few offers of places to stay that night within a short period of the landslide.
CCFR Assistant Chief Sam Russell, sitting inside a department vehicle near the downtown Juneau Public Library at about 7 p.m. said officials were still working on finding a place for people to stay, but had set up tents outside the library for staging. He said some of the residents who were asked to evacuate had just started to arrive.
Steve Lythgoe, a resident who was asked to evacuate his apartment complex and stood under one of the white tents set up, said he was in “disbelief” when he was told about the landslide happening so close to his home.
“We knew something happened, but we didn’t know what,” he said.
As of about 7 p.m., Lythgoe said he didn’t know what was going to happen for the rest of the night, and said he hadn’t heard much from officials or other residents either.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight,” he said. “I’m just down here standing in the rain.”
At 8:20 p.m. a CCFR dispatcher said the downtown fire station is now being used as the staging area for people from the evacuated landslide area.
The National Weather Service issued flood watches and warnings for the northern part of the Southeast Alaska Panhandle, including Juneau, with the heaviest rainfall expected Monday evening and Juneau continuing to get the largest amount of rain into Tuesday morning. An estimated 1 to 3 inches of rain fell during the 24 hours before the landslide, with up to three more inches forecast for the area by Tuesday morning.