Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Anchorage Tomorrow (Weather Willing)

Tomorrow we're scheduled to fly into Anchorage for in-service and a few days of R&R. We've had such horrible air travel luck (delayed twice) that I'm trying really hard to lower my expectations... but these are the things I am really looking forward to!

- A really fantastic salad with fresh produce. In an ideal world, there would be a Chop't location in Anchorage, but I'll take what I can get.

- Trees!

- Hopefully getting at least some of my textbooks to start preparing for classes this summer. And a Barnes and Noble trip for sure.

- Sushi.

- Spending a few days at Alyeska.

- Refreshing our food supplies at Costco and Fred Meyer. We actually have a ton of food in the pantry, but it is getting SO BORING.

- Fast internet!

- Going to synagogue

Monday, March 4, 2013

Arctic Super Mega Storm (That Really Should be Called What It Is, A Hurricane)

National Weather Service Graphic*
It’s been an exciting couple of days around here.

On Thursday, word spread that we were about to get socked with a big storm. Oftentimes the forecasts for our area are not particularly reality-based, but this seemed worthy of attention. NOAA forecast sustained wind in the 40-50 mph range, with gusts up to 90 mph, and significant snow accumulation.

So we were not particularly surprised when school was called on Friday, though the weather at that point wasn’t particularly awful—just an overnight snow storm and some gusts. We were going to try for school Saturday, but woke up to find this:

Our front door (*after* Ivan had already knocked a lot of the snow off)

Note the snow ON THE CEILING. It's also piled several feet high in the nook to the right. Hope we don't have to get into our boiler room anytime soon!
The footprints at the botton kind of add scale. The drifts here were up to my thighs.
And this:
Solarium door. There's a drift behind this piled up several feet against the back of our house.

Solarium.** Table for scale-- probably 2.5 feet high?

And this.

School doors.
Window at school.
It was actually kind of funny—we’re so used to the sound of the wind that this didn’t even wake us up.

We spent Saturday morning digging ourselves and an elderly neighbor out, but didn’t stray much beyond our immediate neighborhood + school, which is very close. Fortunately, the snow was fairly light and powdery!

Sunday, we got out a bit more and saw the full impact of the storm. We were lucky to be somewhat sheltered, but some of the housing in the other neighborhood was covered in 8-12 foot drifts. Pickup trucks were absolutely buried, and one house had drifts to its roofline. There was also a good bit of new structural damage, including one solarium** that was ripped off an abandoned house. I’ll try to get some pictures over the next few days.

Fortunately, no one on our island was injured. Everyone pitched in to help dig out those who couldn’t, get heat working, and generally clean up. One of the things I love about living here is that sense of community and willingness to pitch in. If this storm had occurred in a more populated area, it would have been a media frenzy. Professional emergency managers and responders would have been busy for days if not weeks. Here? Dig out, help out, move on.

* Funny story: When I was trying to find the weather service pictures online, I googled "Aleutians" and "hurricane." Didn't find anything for this storm, but a lot of really high-pitched articles about a "MONSTER STORM" ... that happened January 16th. I'm fairly sure that we were in the middle of it, had school, and didn't really notice.

** If anyone is wondering why on earth military housing in the 2nd rainiest place in the United States had solaria... yeah, we wondered that too. Rumor has it that this batch of pre-fab housing was actually supposed to go to Hawaii, but got diverted to the island instead.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bob Reeve High School / NEX


A few weekends ago, we explored the building that used to house the island’s schools, Bob Reeve High School and Mt. Moffett Elementary / Junior High. In 1992, only two years before the Navy made Adak an unaccompanied post, a brand new school was opened closer to the family housing. Shortly after the move, there was an earthquake that caused significant damage to the Navy Exchange, which was then relocated to the old school building. Happily, the new school building is currently in use as the school, community center, Post Office, clinic, city office, library, church, and police station.

The building’s dual use history added an interesting element of industrial archaeology to our exploration. It was fascinating to see the layers of NEX detritus against the backdrop of the familiar architecture and organization of a large public school.

The welcome sign for the NEX has held up remarkably well, especially in comparison to the paint and the glass

 Much more after the jump!

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