New shipping containers include a temporary morgue
April 23, 2020
The Haines Borough has purchased three shipping containers-two for storing search and rescue and wildland fire fighting supplies, and the other as a temporary morgue.
The borough ordered the containers in January to store emergency supplies and equipment such as cots, blankets, ropes, backpacks and other firefighting supplies said Haines Volunteer Fire Department chief Al Giddings. The borough's morgue in the public safety building holds up to two bodies, he said.
"The morgue was simply precautionary and hopefully we'll never have to use it," Giddings said. "The reason it's so big is because there's nothing smaller that houses a refrigeration unit."
The borough purchased the refrigeration unit from Alaska Marine Lines. The containers, staged in the public safety building's parking lot, alarmed some residents, who thought every container was going to store the bodies of those who succumbed to COVID-19.
"They are refrigerated trailers for dead bodies!" one comment on social media stated after a photo was posted. "Stay home. Stay alive!"
Rachelle Galinski said HVFD volunteer Darwin Feakes emailed school staff the day after the containers appeared.
"I was a bit taken aback that the borough felt we needed one for a morgue, but once Darwin explained that our actual morgue only holds two bodies, I understood the need for it," Galinski said.
The fire department ordered the two storage containers because they've run out of space inside the public works building. "We were starting to step all over the gear for lack of a place to put it," Giddings said.
The morgue container isn't in operation because the refrigeration unit needs a 240-volt power source.
"The morgue itself will be relocated somewhere else because we're unable to get the power required to run the unit," Giddings said.
Borough staff are considering moving the morgue to the Lutak Dock or the water and sewer plant where it could connect to adequate power supply.