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After Four Days, Power Returns To Aniak

Adrian Wagner

After four days without power to half of the town, the village of Aniak's electricity was restored Saturday afternoon. Half of the town had their power back within hours of the initial outage, but the other half was left to deal with freezers full of thawing food. Laura Simeon was one of those people.

“My big concern is what if this had happened during the winter? A lot of the housing here, especially in the housing areas, they run from heating boards or from monitors and those run from electricity," said Simeon. 

Simeon is the tribal administrator in Aniak. She says that this has happened several times already this year, though never for this long.

During the outage Simeon charged her phone at a neighbors house and started making calls to connect people without power to freezers and showers that they could use. 

“People from downtown had space available in their freezers for people that needed to move some of their fish and meat they had stored," Simeon said. 

The school district pitched in with their industrial freezers, and Simeon says that she thinks little food was lost in the end, but after this outage she doesn’t have much faith in the power company.

“It’s kinda sad when you have a sudden power outage and your own electric company don’t know or cannot locate the problem," Simeon said. 

Darlene Holmberg, manager at the power station, says residents don’t understand how difficult the process was to identify and fix the problem. She says the cause of the outage was an electrical line under the airport runway that had a short.

“They’re hard to locate when they’re underground," said Holmberg. "You have an idea from point A to point B but you can’t always pinpoint the point that needs repair.”

Holmberg, who didn’t lose power in her own home, says she is sympathetic towards the other half of the village, but also says that there is nothing the electric company could have done differently.

As for Mrs. Simeon of the Tribal Council, she’s advising people to buy a generator.