Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire
Two cones and concrete barriers sit near the fallen trees and debris left over after a landslide occurred early last week. Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside.

Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire Two cones and concrete barriers sit near the fallen trees and debris left over after a landslide occurred early last week. Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside.

City of Juneau wraps up landslide cleanup

Remaining debris is in the hands of property owners, according to city officials.

JUNEAU — Keeping your eyes on the road while driving down Gastineau Avenue, it would be hard to know that just last week a giant tree and flipped truck blocked the way through.

But, turn your head just a bit and you’d see two partially mangled houses with trees and debris scattered in between them, orange cones and concrete barriers, the only things separating where the cleared road stops and the pile of destruction begins.

City and Borough of Juneau Emergency Program Manager Tom Mattice said since Sept. 29 Gastineau Avenue has been open for traffic and has deemed the city’s contribution to the cleanup efforts “done.”

[Landslide damages building, prompts evacuation]

“CBJ is essentially done with its response and so the neighborhood is all open and safe to go,” he said.

Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside.

Jin Mitchem, a Juneau resident whose home was destroyed by the slide, has received nearly $50,000 in donations from close to 650 people via a GoFundMe fundraiser. Shared on the site, he estimated it could cost close to or more than $200,000 when accounting lawyers, demolition and construction of a rebuilt home.

[Juneau man stunned by loss of home, community support]

“Thank you everyone so much. Yesterday I was in total shock and thought I was straight up done for,” Mitchem wrote in response to the outpouring of donations. “Standing in front of the wreckage, it felt like something right out of a movie. It was unreal. What it looked like was what I felt like inside.”

Mattice said all power has been restored to the houses that did not sustain damage from the event, but said there are one or two houses surrounding the main area of damage that are still without power.

As for what will happen about the debris and damage that still exists just feet away from the road, Mattice said it is not the city’s responsibility and it is in the hands of the private owners to be dealt with.

“CBJ does not go on private property to solve private issues,” Mattice said. “It’s private property, it’s debris on their property.”

He said it’s important for residents in Juneau to recognize the significant amount of hazard areas that exist in the borough, and said he urges people to make sure they understand and are prepared for the risk associated with living near or in those areas.

“It’s unfortunate that in Juneau that we have a lot of hazard areas in Juneau and it’s important for people who live in that area to be aware of those hazards and deal with their own circumstances and be prepared to do what they need to do should the hazard arise,” he said.

“We want people to recognize there is always hazard and threat and risk from time to time and we hope people are paying attention and making educated decisions on their own.”

Lionel Brown, a resident who lives in an apartment complex nearby, was walking up Gastineau Avenue on Thursday morning after grabbing a beverage downtown. He said it was a routine for him to walk down the street most mornings, but that he had to change his route while cleanup was underway.

Brown said he was a part of the group of residents who received aid from the Red Cross, which teamed up with Capital City Fire/Rescue, to set up a temporary evacuation center at CCFR Station 1 downtown.

According to Taylar Sausen, Red Cross regional communications director, the temporary shelter provided to residents was only open on the night of the slide. But, she said the Red Cross continues to provide aid to residents affected by the event.

“We are here to make sure there isn’t anything more that they need from us and work with to aid them in their recovery process,” she said.

She said some of the assistance that they offered included a financial contribution to families in the recovery process, providing damage assessment of their homes and in some circumstances providing additional financial assistance beyond the initial contribution.

“We walked them through the process, and we’re still in the process of helping them,” she said.

Sausen said she encourages residents who might have been impacted by the slide but who did not reach out initially to the Red Cross to do so and talk with officials about possible recovery aid.

Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire
Lionel Brown points down Gastineau Avenue on Thursday morning. He said it was a normal routine to walk down the street most mornings, but had to change his route for a while debris cleanup was underway.

Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire Lionel Brown points down Gastineau Avenue on Thursday morning. He said it was a normal routine to walk down the street most mornings, but had to change his route for a while debris cleanup was underway.

Two cones and concrete barriers sit near the fallen trees and debris left over after a landslide occurred early last week. Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside. (Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire)

Two cones and concrete barriers sit near the fallen trees and debris left over after a landslide occurred early last week. Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside. (Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire)

Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire 
Two cones sit and concrete barriers separate the fallen trees and debris left over after a landslide occurred early last week, on Thursday. Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside.

Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire Two cones sit and concrete barriers separate the fallen trees and debris left over after a landslide occurred early last week, on Thursday. Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside.

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