Economic Crisis

Emmonak man seeks food airlift to combat economic crisis


January 12, 2009 at 1:42PM AKST

A combination of extreme cold and high fuel prices has created a humanitarian crisis for the village of Emmonak, according to resident Nicholas Tucker.

In a letter sent out as a cry for help, Tucker describes economic conditions in which families are rationing food and warmth for themselves and their children in the Southwest Alaska village of 800.

The situation could easily worsen — extreme cold that arrived early this winter and stuck around means heating fuel must soon be flown in, which residents fear will push the price from $7.83 per gallon to $9 a gallon or more.

In the letter, Tucker, who calls himself a longtime advocate for the region, describes the desperate circumstances faced by several families. He learned about their situation after putting out a VHF radio announcement in the village asking families to describe how they were weathering the fuel crisis in rural Alaska.

Tucker requests a “massive airlift” of food and said money from churches, state agencies and other groups is needed to offset the high fuel prices. The 100 gallons of free heating fuel for every home in Alaska Native communities that has been promised by oil company Citgo will help. But it won’t be enough because it will last only one month, he said.

Tucker originally circulated the letter on Jan. 10 at a meeting in Emmonak in which Lower Yukon River villages discussed ways to lower fuel prices next spring. The letter has also been sent to some churches, the Food Bank of Alaska and officials with Calista Corp., the Native corporation for the region which owns this and other rural newspapers.

Emmonak man seeks food airlift to combat economic crisis