Photo courtesy of Sara Yockey, Organized Village of Kasaan

Clean up work is underway this week, nearly two months after a landslide closed a road near Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

A three-person crew from the Organized Village of Kasaan started Monday, February 25 to clear the road. They’re using two dump trucks and an excavator to remove the slide material and truck it to the Thorne Bay Landfill, about three miles away. The tribal government applied for and received 400,000 dollars in emergency relief money through the Bureau of Indian Affairs to remove the boulders, trees and other debris blocking the road. Sara Yockey is the incident commander with the OVK.

“We’re on day 55 and we’re working on it,” Yockey said Monday. “Working as fast as we can and are allowed.”

Photo courtesy of Sara Yockey, Organized Village of Kasaan

The slide happened around 8:30 p.m. on January 1st on the road that connects Thorne Bay to Kasaan. Reports from the city of Thorne Bay are that the slide measures 1214 feet long. It goes from 722 feet of elevation down to sea level and is 184 feet at its widest point.

Yockey declined to say when the road might be cleared.

“I’m not going to give any information on when the road is open,” she said. “I apologize but I can’t predict that. And I’m not going to put a date out there and then have people be upset when that date comes and passes and the road potentially could not be open.”

Once the slide is cleared, officials expect they’ll have to build a barrier above the road to stop additional material from coming down the hillside. The slide occurred on National Forest land. An old logging road is being used as a bypass route.