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Forced to Reckon with Rising Seas, Alaskan Village Votes on Relocation


Forced to Reckon with Rising Seas, Alaskan Village Votes on Relocation

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Residents of a remote Alaskan village will find out Wednesday if they are to become the first American community to become climate refugees.

Rapidly rising sea levels are forcing the 650-person village of Shishmaref, which lies just north of the Bering Strait, to consider relocating. Residents voted Tuesday and the city clerk said that results will be announced Wednesday.

As for where they will go, the community will decide later at a town meeting. The move is estimated to cost $180 million.


I can just see the Paul Ryan budget on Alaskan climate refugee relocation. DROWN! Yes Paul Ryan, and his budgets for American people in a struggle is drown. Food Stamps, Paul Ryan is deeply pissed off that poor people eat food bought with food stamps. The Alaskan climate refugee relocation lets spend the money, in fact all refugees lets spend the money it's there stuck in the Pentagon. Lets get it back, it is our American peoples money.


In the meantime, Mr. Hope/Change and "leader on climate" may open up the Gulf for more offshore drilling. Groups/individuals are begging him to stop the rape and pillage of the biosphere. This it total bullshit. Anyone who thinks that "holding feet to the fire" works needs to wake up. Even if he cancels the drilling, the fact that it has reached this point is inexcusable. This is a crime against humanity. Hillary Clinton is following in his footsteps -----she has stated so.


This week, central and southwestern Louisiana have been slammed by unprecedented floods. Over the weekend, I watched heavy rains pour down on my community and my own home sink into rising waters.

Across the region, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, thousands of homes damaged, and at at least eleven people killed. This fills my heart with both a deep sadness and deep anger -- at the fossil fuel companies driving this ongoing crisis, and at an Administration that continues to sell them the right to do so.

**Next Wednesday, on August 24th, the Obama administration is planning to sell off an area the size of Virginia for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.**

In the face of this climate emergency, we’re calling on President Obama to cancel the upcoming fossil fuel auction here in the Gulf.

We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and stop treating the Gulf Coast like a sacrifice zone.

Offshore drilling endangers both the people of the Gulf and the climate we depend on. In the midst of this climate-driven disaster, moving forward with this auction is unconscionable. Doing it at the New Orleans Superdome -- the site of one of the most visible and tragic instances of climate injustice in recent history -- is nothing short of insulting.

We’ve been organizing and resisting for decades here on the Gulf Coast, but right now, we need to come together as a movement and support both the organizing and the relief efforts that are underway on the ground. Like all climate crises, this flood will most gravely impact the already marginalized in our society -- poor people, people of color, the elderly. You can make a donation to support disaster relief and recovery here.

This climate event is being called a “1,000 year flood” and a “truly historic event,” and according to the Red Cross, it’s the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy.1 This type of storm is far from normal -- but it could become normal if we don’t act now. This auction would enable the fossil fuel industry to do more of the very thing that is intensifying these floods in the first place.

Allowing next week’s fossil fuel auction to move forward is rubbing salt in the wounds of a region already in a state of emergency. Sign today and demand that President Obama call it off.

No more business as usual. My beloved Gulf coast is not for sale.

Love and liberation,

Cherri Foytlin, Gulf Coast Mother of 6


The article says it will cost 180 million to relocate the village, also that Obama has proposed 50.4 billion for village relocation, "but that only covers a portion of the estimated cost of one community's move." Please explain. It would seem to me that 50.4 billion would cover 280 villages at $180 million per.

You know, England is triaging their flooding coastline, deciding which villages to save. (One famous one was lost in the 1800s.) I visited Butrint in Albania and one of the info sheets described the flooding and the withdrawal of flooding of the site 17,000 years ago. I am very skeptical that man can reverse nature's major changes. Still I suppose it is nice to think we can--I believe it is called hubris.


It sounds like getting into the 'remote village relocating' industry could prove highly, highly, highly lucrative with the numbers being floated. While the $50.4 billion not being enough to move a village is obviously a typo, even the $180 million for 650 people translates into $277k PER PERSON.

"...the mostly prefabricated houses..."

Anybody here want to start up a 'remote village relocating' company with me in partnership? We'll move one village... then retire and live happily ever after. All we have to do is win what will likely be a 'no bid contract.' Could be hard as I have no high-up connections in government... my ideal business partner would. Preferably a contact who owes you something. Get back to me if this sounds good to you.


If it will cost $180 million to move a tiny village of 650 people on the Bering Sea just think how much it will cost to move South Florida in a few decades!

"the Miami-Dade/Broward/Palm Beach metropolitan area is now the eighth-most populated in the nation, recently surpassing six million people for the first time." http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article68048512.html

At a cost of $277,000 to move one person off Shismaref, moving the 6 million people of South Florida will cost $1,661,538,461,538.00 dollars (i.e. $1.67 trillion dollars). Yikes!


My first thoughts exactly about Florida.


I think that making more public the concept of 'global warming is real' and put out a chart of which communities are at risk might cause more people to actually consider moving now before they find themselves sitting in the water. I have been paying attention for years & years & bought 2 houses since my first notice of this subject (around 1985) - needless to say neither was in a potential flood zone - including a piece of land in the Bahamas at roughly 80 ft above sea level !!! My point is that people are already making choices, some of us have for years, and the prices of lots in Florida have now started to head down - market forces will fix a lot of this problem. The idea that we should just 'shore up' & rebuild everybody who happens to live in a dangerous spot is mind boggling - there will be way too many of them once the problem becomes public. Trouble is that those left 'holding the property' last are the ones who will suffer, there has to be some kind of help then but it should NOT be a shoring up of property that is sitting in future danger zones ! Basic 'help you get reestablished' money is probably all we could afford then ! What is very sad is the recent surge in 'property on the water' tv programs obviously designed to kill any public worry on the subject, and sustain seaside prices as long as possible ! I too would love a house on the beach but I would not take that risk now !


Which includes infrastructure, roads, plumbing and sewers, connecting to the grid, building community services structures like a clinic or post office, town hall etc. it may seem like that $277 k figure is a lot but not when it has to pay for rebuilding a village and not just building new homes.


What you are seeing in this remote Alaskan village, is a harbinger of the future,folks. Unless the climate crisis gets addressed with the same urgency and $ priority the MIC would get if the U.S. was in a third world war with Russia, it will only get worse, probably until some world wide climate catastrophe!


Relocating folks in Florida will be cheaper, they already have roads and a milder climate. In Alaska, particularly in the Arctic Circle, everything is more expensive and they don't have roads. Most of everything in Shismaref was likely brought in by boat which means only in the summer when the sea was free of ice. The logistics of relocating a village in Alaska is far more complicated than it is in Florida where things don't freeze up for half the year.


While I may have exaggerated a little, I did take those things into account. Assuming a four souls per dwelling figure, which is likely quite fair, plus the community buildings you've mentioned, it's about a hundred twenty-five structures. Wiki pegs it one hundred forty-two. Being in a melting perma-frost situation, there are no sewers. Roads are nothing more than aggregate piled up and compacted to the point that it doesn't get too muddy under the worst of conditions. There is no grid to connect to. Information is scant online but I'd imagine they have a diesel-powered generating station like other remote communities. This, along with the vast majority of the existing dwellings, could be hoisted by mobile crane and barged to the new town site. The biggest expenses are primarily the remote location itself (barging equipment there - no easy feat) and the eventual rebuilding of the airport. All these things considered, the costs estimated by the 'officials' still boggle my mind.


You are quite right the math doesn't compute. Thanks for pointing it out as some of us can slide over numbers pretty easily, especially when it's approaching midnight. I did some online searches.

Apparently the unofficial vote is in and it was:
"Shishmaref voted to leave in a 89 to 78 vote. The dollar amount I saw "U.S. Department of the Interior has only offered $8 million for tribes looking to move." A lot closer to the amount we would expect from our beloved leader for something for human needs rather than WMD. Both are from a blog that I have no information about:
According to another site in an article from 2015 about a different village:
"Roughly $27 million in state and federal dollars has been allocated for
studies, an environmental assessment and the design and construction of
"pioneer infrastructure," she said. Not all has been spent. Plus, Newtok
Village Council says another $10 million has been committed to build a
road to the Mertarvik airport, which includes $4.1 million from a state
transportation bond plus BIA grants."

Some typo!


Perhaps they are thinking of building a school, library, hospital, water treatment facilities, digging wells or whatever to get fresh and clean water.

Here's an intriguing info from a linked story from:
"DOT began working on the project in the fall of 2010. It hired
architects to design the MEC. Contractors erected a steel pile
foundation and drilled a well. Then, in September 2011, then-tribal
administrator Stanley Tom asked for the tribe's agreement with DOT to be
dissolved, according to the state financial audit. The state had spent
$2.6 million. The foundation was ready for the construction of the
building structure."
It continues:
"It would take $5 million to $5.5 million to complete the 7,500-square
foot building, using the existing foundation and crated panels, then
purchasing additional beams and posts, plus finish materials, said Dave
Cramer, the Tok-area president of Summit Consulting Services Inc., an
engineering and construction management firm hired by the tribe this
summer. Cramer and another engineer inspected the work."

Sounds like the classic boondoggle. Can you spell corruption? Apparently the villagers are not going to just pack up and move.