CORDOVA, Alaska — Cordova residents woke up Wednesday to rain that had turned a lot of the city's heavy snowfall snow into slush, causing several inches of water to accumulate on the roads.
Temperatures reached into the upper 30s, prompting fears of an avalanche on the Copper River Highway. The state Department of Transportation shut down the highway Tuesday night, but by mid-morning Wednesday traffic was allowed back through with an escort.
"The avalanche shoot has filled up with snow," said Cordova Public Information Officer Tim Joyce. "The only place it can go is down across the highway, if it does come down again."
Merle and Barbara Hanson live along Eyak Lake, which is about 200 yards away from the predicted path of the avalanche.
"Our kids, even though they grew up here, they hear it's going to be an avalanche and they want Mom and Dad out -- but we don’t feel uncomfortable here," Barbara Hanson said as she stood on her back porch.
Several years ago, an avalanche killed a person and wiped out at least a dozen homes right next door to the Hansons.
"(My wife) called me and asked me if I was all right, and I asked why," Merle Hanson said. "She said there had been an avalanche, but I didn’t hear it."
Around town, the priority was removing the thick, wet snow from rooftops.
Service members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska National Guard worked together on snow removal Wednesday. One of the projects was an apartment complex that had been evacuated on Tuesday.
"It’s a flat roof, so it's got a good chance of caving it," said Coast Guard member Jen Saxum.
The people that were evacuated are staying with family and friends, and there is also a Red Cross shelter that is open.