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April 27 Coronavirus Update: Upper Kalskag

The Kuskokwim River near Kalskag on April 28, 2020.
Julia Dorris

The ice has not yet broken free on the river in front of Kalskag. As of Monday, April 27, the ice was still thick in the main channel of the Kuskokwim. But according to Upper Kalskag Tribal President Julia Dorris, at the edges the water was flowing fast.

“You know, it’s really swift-flowing on the sides,” said Dorris.

Most of the snow has melted away from the ground, and many people are doing what they do every spring: 

“They’re going back in the tundra, hunting birds,” Dorris said.

The recent sunny weekend left pools of water lying on the surface in Upper Kalskag where there used to be snow a few days earlier. Dorris said that most of the water has soaked into the ground now. As for the possibility of flooding, the community is ready for it if it happens.

“I already called my brother and I said ‘Steven, pack up your little backpack and put everything up high,' because he lives right up on the river. ‘In case it go over the bank, you just come and move to my house,'” said Dorris.

On the issue of Kalskag’s efforts to keep the coronavirus out, Dorris says that her neighbors are hanging tough together. For some, this pandemic has brought back stories of the flu epidemic that wiped out many people in 1918. For example, Dorris grew up without any grandparents on either side of her family because they had all died from the flu.

“I was sad that I never knew my grandparents, but we borrowed grandparents from other families,” she said.

Dorris is confident that Kalskag residents will continue to do what is necessary to help their neighbors get through both the potential threat of spring flooding and the coronavirus pandemic. 

Katie Basile is an independent photographer and multimedia storyteller from Bethel, Alaska.
Johanna Eurich's vivid broadcast productions have been widely heard on National Public Radio since 1978. She spent her childhood speaking Thai, then learned English as a teenager and was educated at a dance academy, boarding schools and with leading intellectuals at her grandparents' dinner table in Philadelphia.
Related Content
  • COVID-19 in the Y-K Delta. Updated when case counts are made available, all information is from the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation's COVID-19 dashboard.