Coast Guard Cutter Hickory crewmembers offload pallets of water destined for the residents in Angoon, Alaska, Feb. 14, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Coast Guard Cutter Hickory crewmembers offload pallets of water destined for the residents in Angoon, Alaska, Feb. 14, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Tlingit and Haida, Coast Guard work together to help Angoon

Mechanical failures and cold threatened the water supply.

Days and days of killing cold and mechanical failures brought the city of Angoon’s water supply perilously low.

But a combined effort between the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s Tribal Emergency Operations Center and the Coast Guard delivered water Sunday evening, easing demand on the supply while repairs were effected.

“We had a big main line break on the third. We lost a lot of our treated water supply from our tanks. They got it repaired, but it was followed by a week of freezing cold, which led to a lot of residential breaks,” said Angoon mayor Joshua Bowen in a phone interview. “We got all of these leaks stopped. But over this weekend, one of our tank transfer pumps stopped doing its job. It ended up freezing and cracking that pump.”

This threatened the supply of potable water to the community of around 400, said Jason Wilson of the Tlingit and Haida’s emergency operations center.

Coast Guard Cutter Hickory crewmembers offload pallets of water meant for the residents in Angoon, Alaska, Feb. 14, 2021. Four pallets of water were recently shipped to Angoon. The community’s water supply was threatened because of cold and mechanical failures. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Coast Guard Cutter Hickory crewmembers offload pallets of water meant for the residents in Angoon, Alaska, Feb. 14, 2021. Four pallets of water were recently shipped to Angoon. The community’s water supply was threatened because of cold and mechanical failures. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

“President Peterson was notified, and gave me a call, and said ‘let’s look into this,’” Wilson said in a phone interview. “We decided at the TEOC to kick it into gear. We just feel it was important to get water over there.”

Coordinating with the Coast Guard, the emergency operations center purchased four pallets of water, or nearly 7,000 bottles of water, and shipped them aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory, a buoy tender homeported in Homer, said the Coast Guard in a news release.

“We were notified on Saturday afternoon. I talked to the mayor about 2-3 p.m. We got water loaded up on the Coast Guard vessel by about 8 that evening. They left immediately. They arrived at Angoon about 9 p.m. And by 11.30 p.m., all the community members had water,” Wilson said. “I think in emergency management, the more connections you have people, not just in our community but all over the place, assist with response time. We love to brag our Coast Guard because they just jumped, didn’t think about it.”

Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and South Tongasss Volunteer Fire Department for helping Tlingit &…Posted by Tlingit & Haida on Monday, 15 February 2021

This latest event highlights the need for the Tribal Emergency Operations Center in Southeast Alaska and the work partnerships can accomplish, Wilson said

“We were real fortunate in communicating with the Coast Guard,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the Coast Guard had even discussed using their MH-60 helicopters to transport the water if the need was urgent enough.

The town is out of immediate trouble, Bowen said. With the water delivered, Angoon bought enough time to make enough repairs. Now, they’re supplying the town off one water tank while updating Angoon’s infrastructure. The emergency operations center is keeping an eye on the situation, Wilson said.

“We’re still monitoring the event. I believe they’re waiting for a pump. But if that doesn’t happen, there might be more that we need to do,” Wilson said. “The community was looking at not being able to receive a ferry for 10 days. We’re monitoring the situation. The Coast Guard is also on standby for us. They say, ‘Hey, if you need more help, we’re there for it.’”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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