The village of Tuluksak got good news this month: it gets a new generator and an emergency opening to hunt moose. The village had a couple of power outages this summer that nearly wiped out the food stores residents had socked away for winter.
Angela Alexie was one of many Tuluksak residents who lost their frozen fish and berries during two extended power outages in July. Now she says she’s working to replenish her supplies.
"My oldest son helps, my dad helps; even though he’s elderly he helps with the meat," Alexie said.
Middy Peter, the tribal council president, says that Tuluksak will be getting a new generator soon. Tuluksak’s power is supposed to be supplied by three generators, but only one of them is currently working. The Alaska Energy Authority, which helps with rural Alaska energy issues, says that various maintenance problems caused the two outages this summer.
For five days in early July, Tuluksak was without power when one of the generators cut out. Then, while the Alaska Energy Authority was working with the village’s utility staff to repair it, the other generator overheated and failed, leaving Tuluksak without power for eight days at the end of July and early August. During the first power outage, AEA says that someone also vandalized one of the generators. The village needs at least two functional generators to provide a reliable power supply.
But Tuluksak is no stranger to power outages. George Lamont was a former tribal administator for Tuluksak from 2008 to 2012 and dealt with those issues.
"This has been going on for quite some years now," Lamont said.
Lamont says that poor maintenance and lack of funding is historically to blame for the community’s power failures, but Peter says that the village hired a new utility operator to help resolve these problems. Meanwhile, the Federal Subsistence Board was asked to open up an emergency moose season for Tuluksak residents to help them replace the food lost when freezers thawed during this summer’s power outages.
While Fish and Wildlife is allocating 14 permits to Tuluksak residents for the special hunt beginning Friday, the village can only harvest a total of seven bull moose. The emergency season is set to close by August 31, or when all seven bull moose are harvested.
Peter and Lamont say that this will help residents who lost their winter supplies.
Correction: A previous version of this article said that the state Department of Fish and Game allocated the permits and that Middy Peter asked them for permission to hunt.