The City of Sitka has officially declared a Disaster Emergency, following the August 18 storm with brought seven landslides down in the community, and killed three people.
Search teams in Sitka were racing the clock today, as they worked to find the third victim of Tuesday’s landslide before a new storm arrives tonight. Heavy rain and wind is forecast this weekend, which officials worry will make it unsafe for crews to work.
Officials have released the names of the two landslide victims recovered on Wednesday and Thursday. They have been identified as brothers Elmer and Ulises Diaz, ages 26 and 25.
Search crews have recovered two bodies from the Kramer Avenue landslide in Sitka. One man remains missing but crews are focused on an area identified by search dogs. Officials hope to recover all three bodies before heavy rain predicted Friday.
A small army of people is working on recovery efforts following Tuesday’s landslides in Sitka. And as any general knows, an army marches on its stomach.
With two bodies already recovered from the Kramer Avenue landslide, crews are focusing their full efforts Thursday afternoon (8-20-15) on locating the body of 62-year-old William Stortz, Sitka's building official.
The National Weather Service is predicting more rain in Sitka, with two to three inches falling Friday night, and some gusty winds. But the risk of more slides is limited.
Search crews recovered a second body from the Kramer Avenue landslide in Sitka, at about 12:40 pm today (Thu 8-20-15), near the location of the first body, which was found at 7:15 yesterday evening (Wed 8-19-15). Neither name has been released pending notification of next of kin.
Gov. Bill Walker was in Sitka today to assess the damage from Tuesday's landslides. He also met with the families of three men who are missing and presumed dead. The search for those three men was proceeding slowly, hampered by fears of further landslides.
Although it will never be considered anything other than a tragedy, Sitka's Kramer Avenue landslide could have been worse. At least two other people were directly in its path -- but escaped.