The LeSabre

The LeSabre

The LeSabre

The Alaska landslide causes five deaths

On November 20, a landslide left Wrangell, Alaska in ruins. (Flickr under the creative commons license)

In southeast Alaska, a devastating landslide on Zimovia Highway near Wrangell has taken the lives of at least five individuals, including a young girl, and left others missing.

The landslide, reported around 9 p.m. local time on November 20, engulfed three homes and expanded to an estimated 450 feet in width, creating a significant debris field. Initial search and rescue efforts discovered the remains of two adults, while a woman was rescued on the morning after the landslide took place. State troopers are leading ongoing search operations, with a temporary pause on the ground search for safety assessments, later cleared by geologists.

Sixteen-year-old Mara Heller and eleven-year-old Kara Heller were discovered deceased during the initial search and rescue operations on November 20. The bodies of 44-year-old Timothy Heller and 36-year-old Beth Heller were found the following day, as reported by the public safety department. On November 29, twelve-year-old Derek Heller was found dead in the landslide debris. The search efforts continue to focus on locating these individuals during the aftermath of the devastating landslide in Wrangell.

The hazardous conditions were created by heavy rainfall, exceeding 3 inches in the 24 hours preceding the incident, and winds of 61 to 87 mph on the evening of the landslide. According to geologists, the southeast Alaska region, already prone to debris flows, faced increased risk due to these factors. The challenging weather and remote location have posed difficulties in rescue efforts. About 20 to 30 people have been displaced, highlighting the widespread impact of the destructive landslide. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has declared a disaster in Wrangell, underscoring the severity of the situation and the need for coordinated response and support.

Despite these challenges, the Wrangell community has demonstrated resilience and unity in the face of tragedy. Residents, including boat owners, have played a crucial role in rescue and support efforts. As the community copes with the aftermath, various individuals and businesses have stepped up to provide essential supplies and aid. Ongoing search and recovery operations are being conducted to bring closure to the affected families and the community at large.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ashlyn Swanson
Ashlyn Swanson, Journalist
Grade: Senior Activities: Swimming and Softball My car's name: Dora the Ford Explorer Favorite superhero: Spiderman Favorite coffee shops: Starbucks and Copper Pony