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Newtok Moves First Families Into New Homes In Mertarvik

The first residents moved into Mertarvik last weekend. About a third of Newtok, the ones closest to the erosion and flooding, will move across the river to the new village throughout this month.
Marc Lester
/
Anchorage Daily News

It was 20 years coming, but it finally began this weekend: the first residents of Mertarvik moved into their new homes. 

The village of Newtok has been eroding for decades, but now the river is knocking on people’s doors. Several homes have already been torn down to avoid falling into the water.

Albertina Charles lived in one of those demolished homes. And now that she’s moved across the river, up the hill to Mertarvik and away from the community she knew, her feelings are complicated.  

"I'm happy," Charles said. "It’s not going to be same living here. But we’ll get used to it. We’ll get used to living here."

Throughout this month, over 130 people from Newtok, roughly a third of the village, will cross the Ninglick River to pioneer Mertarvik, their new home. 

Greg Kim is a news reporter for KYUK covering environment, health, education, public safety, culture and subsistence. He's covered everything from Newtok's relocation due to climate change-fueled erosion to the Bethel chicken massacre of 2020.