In retrospect, not far enough.
Rapid erosion has brought the Ninglick River to within yards of residents’ homes. Thawing permafrost has shifted structures off foundations, skewed power lines and damaged boardwalks that are the sole thoroughfare. Waste from portable toilets called honey buckets has been distributed across the landscape by recurrent flooding.
Last summer, several families were displaced and their homes demolished to keep them from collapsing into the Ninglick.
In October, after years of planning and millions of dollars, nearly a third of the community began relocating to new homes on higher ground in Mertarvik, about nine miles away.
It will require several more years and tens of millions more dollars in funding that has yet to be obtained to complete the move.
These Americans are among the first to seek refuge from a rapidly changing environment.
They will not be the last.
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