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In Alaska: Nome Waits For Fuel; Cordova Digs Out From 18 Feet Of Snow

They're running out of places to put the snow in Cordova, Alaska. This photo was taken on Saturday (Jan. 7, 2012). i i

hide captionThey're running out of places to put the snow in Cordova, Alaska. This photo was taken on Saturday (Jan. 7, 2012).

Erv Petty/Alaska Div. of Homeland Security and Emergency Management/AP
They're running out of places to put the snow in Cordova, Alaska. This photo was taken on Saturday (Jan. 7, 2012).

They're running out of places to put the snow in Cordova, Alaska. This photo was taken on Saturday (Jan. 7, 2012).

Erv Petty/Alaska Div. of Homeland Security and Emergency Management/AP

Winter continues to wallop Alaska with some weather and some challenges that even the seen-it-all locals seem to be amazed about.

In Cordova, about 150 miles southeast of Anchorage, "dozens of National Guard troops have arrived to help ... dig out from massive snows that have collapsed roofs, trapped some people in homes, and triggered avalanches," The Associated Press reports.

Guard officials tell the AP there's been about 18 feet of snow in Cordova so far this season. The National Weather Service warns that another storm is headed Cordova's way on Tuesday.

But already, "there's nowhere to go with the snow because it's piled up so high," Wendy Rainney, who owns the Orca Adventure Lodge in Cordova, tells the AP.

Fortunately, according to Alaska Dispatch, "the city had recently received supplies, the grocery store was open, though schools were scheduled to be closed Monday. No injuries had been reported due to the snow.

"I'm not aware of any issues with supplies. The only thing we're really lacking is — there's not a snow shovel left in town," Allen Marquette, public information officer with the city of Cordova told Alaska Dispatch. About 2,000 people live in Cordova year-round, the AP says.

Meanwhile, far to the west the 3,500 people of Nome are hopeful that by Wednesday a Russian tanker bringing 1.3 million gallons of much needed fuel will have reached them. It's following the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy.

The Healy, by the way, is posting some pretty amazing photos here.

As Eyder reported back in November, some brutal early winter weather had forced the cancellation of what was going to be the last fuel shipment of the season to Nome. It was feared that any additional fuel would have to be flown in, which would send already high fuel prices in Nome into the stratosphere. But it looks like the Healy will be able to save the day. If the ships make it, this will be the first such wintertime sea delivery to a western Alaska community.

Update at 2:50 p.m. ET. In Cordova, "Even The Old-Timers Say We're Breaking New Ground":

Cordova Mayor Jim Kallander just told NPR's Melissa Block that what's happening in his city is "precedent-setting" and that "nobody's seen snow like this in recent history ... even the old-timers say we're breaking new ground."

So far, he said, no homes have been seriously damaged and now with the additional help from the National Guard, some Coast Guard personnel and some heavy equipment that's been brought in by the state, work continues to dig out.

But, said Kallander, the forecast for Tuesday now calls for three more feet of snow and winds of 40 mph. Are the folks there ready? "Well, we have to be, don't we?" said the mayor, who's lived in Cordova for more than 30 years but has known what it's like to live in snow country all his life because he grew up in New York State's Genesee County.

If there's an emergency, he says, authorities will "send the loader in front of the ambulance or the fire truck and they'll just dig their way to where they have to go."

Much more from Melissa's conversation with the mayor is due on All Things Considered later today. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.

As the mayor said, snow has been piling up in Cordova since mid-December and there are many photos and videos showing up on the Web. Check out this video made there last week.

alaskarochelle/YouTube

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