February 16, 2012 | Vol. 42 No. 7

Slump movement slows, monitoring continues

Due to the slowing movement of the "slump" on Oceanview Drive and Lutak Road, the Haines Borough is closing the command center set up in January to respond to the effects of the mass wasting. Roc Ahrens, emergency coordinator said he will not post any more daily updates on the borough's website or recording line, unless conditions warrant.

The response to the slump is ongoing, even with command center closing, Ahrens said. He was originally hired on contract in mid-January to compile emergency and contingency plans should the slump force the closing of Lutak Road, essentially cutting off the town from Lutak residents and the ferry terminal and fuel dock. With those plans in place, Ahrens said the borough could now respond quickly if any more sudden movement occurs, affecting the roads or utilities.

Ahrens also helped the borough file for disaster designation and assistance with the state.

Engineers are still analyzing the results of soil samples and readings. Ahrens said state and borough engineers dug several 40-foot bore holes in the areas of Oceanview Drive and Lutak Road, and were able to take soil samples every five feet. The samples should give some clues to the stability and layering of the soil. The borough is also taking daily readings of water table levels from the bore holes.

The samples will also help the engineers build a model of the specific kind of slump and movement happening on the hillside.

“From that, then the engineers can take that information and start deciding what is the best solution to fix the problem,” Ahrens said.

He said the borough is expecting the modeling information from engineers in mid to late March.

Ahrens said the state and borough are sharing information from their respective testing. The borough, along with borough engineers PND Engineering and Denali Drilling drilled five test holes along Oceanview, Mathias and one on Lutak Road. The state drilled additional holes along the state right away next to Lutak Road and Front Street.

“It’s a shared problem,” Ahrens said. “The state will be interested in replacing the road and the borough is interested in stabilizing that bank,” Ahrens said.

Ahren’s preparations over the last month has put in place contingency plans that can be quickly rolled out should a “catastrophic” shift in movement on the hillside force the closure of Lutak Road. He prepared plans for what roads or alternatives can be used for traffic around the slump and how passengers, food, fuel and supplies will be able to be brought to town from the ferry and barge dock.