12/08/2016

A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change

Authors: Craig Allen, Gray Beltran, Hannah Fairfield, David Furst, Taige Jensen, Meaghan Looram and Jeremy White

SHAKTOOLIK, Alaska — In the dream, a storm came and Betsy Bekoalok watched the river rise on one side of the village and the ocean on the other, the water swallowing up the brightly colored houses, the fishing boats and the four-wheelers, the school and the clinic.

She dived into the floodwaters, frantically searching for her son. Bodies drifted past her in the half-darkness. When she finally found the boy, he, too, was lifeless.

“I picked him up and brought him back from the ocean’s bottom,” Ms. Bekoalok remembered.

The Inupiat people who for centuries have hunted and fished on Alaska’s western coast believe that some dreams are portents of things to come.

But here in Shaktoolik, one need not be a prophet to predict flooding, especially during the fall storms.

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