I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

It’s early and I’ve brewed a cup of coffee in the semi-dark of the Christmas lights, and fed two of the dogs quietly. I let them out the back door, guessed the new snow is about 8-10 inches deep and I know Little Jack, who plows, won’t be here. He may have lost his home, and then his temporary one was in the evacuation zone, and he is no doubt busy on his loader with all the emergency crews repairing roads and diverting creeks. It’s raining now. It will be heavy to shovel.

Yes, I said two of the dogs because Madi, my daughter Sarah’s ancient bloodhound, is on the dog bed by the windowseat where my sister is sleeping. Everyone arrived late after a notice went out that they should be prepared to evacuate their hillside neighborhood. Better safe than sorry. I have not had hardly anyone in my house except Papa Bob ( my dad) since March and he’s still here, sleeping in the bedroom across the hall.

Chip woke up at four and went to workout above the garage. He’s shook by the news that we heard yesterday that the slide area is still  too dangerous for searchers, and it needs more time to dry out. The forecast is nothing but rain and snow. His friend David is one of the two missing. He was deer hunting with him last week, or was it three ago? I can’t even count now. Then there is the kindergarten teacher. She is missing too.

Last night, it must have been around ten, Chip was just going to bed, later than usual, and Papa Bob and I were talking,  and we heard a car, and then pounding on the door. Were we being evacuated? We aren’t on a hill. Why were they knocking? The door is always open. There were people on the porch. Oh my gosh! My family.Joy! Grandaughters and  my daughter and a dog with bags. Like real holidays. Chip had locked the back door because the handle can be opened by a bear, and they are still around, and this summer and fall broke into homes and cars. Bears. Floods. Landslides. And Covid. We settled the girls in, made sure bathrooms had towels and cups, poured drinks for the grown-ups and talked all at once about everything. Then my sister arrived, and we made up a bed for her in the living room.It was wonderful to have everyone safe here.

“Will we get sick?” I asked Chip at three in the morning, wide awake from the wet snow falling on the tin porch roof ( our bedroom window was open). “No,” he said. “Family is family.” I mean, what do we do?

Haines is doing better, in many ways– we are getting along so well, and working together, and fixing stuff. We  are organizing, taking care of each other, and using and needing volunteers now and yes we will need more —(please fill out the form on the borough site and I will get back to you)– as the flush and energy of the emergency is fading and it appears this may last a while, a week, two, ten? I don’t know. No one does. “Don’t go there, think good thoughts,” I tell myself ten times a day. Accentuate the positive. I had James, my tech wizard neighbor help (via Zoom) yesterday move my notes to a google doc to better organize, and today we are doing more to make it easier to get someone, to say be on stand-by to do Covid screenings at the school, which is now set up as a shelter since all the hotels are full, in case there is an evacuation in the night. Jo Sharon is perfect. She lives near the school. I called her. Or to find ten or fifteen people on short notice to help open up part of the Hotel Halsingland that has been closed since the summer before last and  has never been open in the winter before. It’s very old. Gina said she needed them to stand in the rooms and make sure that when they turned on the water it worked. Sara brought her whole family. Melina asked for four dozen healthy, not sweet breakfast foods for first responders staged at the fire hall. They need good nutrition. I asked Corrie if she could help with a dozen breakfast burritos or something and was texting Fuzzy to bake a quiche, and Corrie said she’d make all four dozen and thanked me for asking her to help.Yesterday, Young Road was repaired or stabilized or whatever they call it, that’s how everyone drove here. A big crew from Haines and all over (rigs and operators have arrived by the boatload) was working like mad.  The Chilkoot Indian Association has mobilized too. I called Harriet yesterday looking for sand bags for volunteers helping a woman divert water from her home.  Yes, there are so many, many helpers. There is a whole group cleaning landslide debris from miles of beaches.

Oh! Little Jack is here. With his loader. Plowing the driveway. I’m crying. He should be sleeping. Or helping someone who needs him more. There are saints among us. (Excuse typos etc. I don’t have time to proof read right now. )