7 Alaska Towns People Are Fleeing As Soon As Possible

Alaska is a state with stunning natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and rich cultural diversity. However, not all of its towns are ideal places to live in, especially with the effects of climate change, economic decline, and social challenges.

Some towns are facing serious problems such as rising sea levels, melting permafrost, eroding land, high crime rates, low incomes, poor education, and lack of opportunities. These factors have led many people to flee these towns as soon as possible, seeking better lives elsewhere. Here are seven of the most notorious towns in Alaska that people are leaving behind.


Newtok is a town that played a pivotal role in the Yupik culture and history, as the site of the first contact between the Yupik and the Russian explorers in the 18th century. However, due to the warming of the Earth, the permafrost that the town sits on is melting, while the rising Ninglick River is eroding the riverline and coastline, on average, 70 feet a year.

The town is expected to be completely submerged by 2025. In 2019, the first Yupik started moving to their new town, Mertarvik, located along a hillside of a volcanic island. The relocation process has been long and arduous, involving various funding sources, military assistance, and logistical challenges.


Kivalina is a town that is home to the Inupiat people, who have lived in the region for over a thousand years. However, the town is also threatened by the rising sea levels, melting sea ice, and coastal erosion, which have made the town more vulnerable to storms and flooding.

The town is expected to be uninhabitable by 2025. The residents have been trying to relocate to a safer location since 1992, but have faced difficulties in securing funding, land, and consensus. The town has also sued several oil and gas companies for contributing to global warming and endangering their lives and livelihoods.


Galena is a town that was once a bustling trading post and a strategic military base during World War II and the Cold War. However, the town has suffered from economic decline, population loss, and environmental disasters. In 2013, the town was hit by a devastating flood that damaged or destroyed 90% of the buildings and infrastructure.

The flood was caused by an ice jam on the Yukon River, which was exacerbated by the melting of the permafrost and the changing of the river flow. Many residents have left the town after the flood, either temporarily or permanently, and some have not returned due to the lack of resources, services, and opportunities.


Tanana is a town that is located at the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon rivers, and is one of the oldest settlements in Alaska. However, the town is also isolated from the rest of the state, as it is only accessible by air, boat, or snowmobile. The town has a high cost of living, a high crime rate, and a low quality of life.

In 2014, the town was shocked by the murder of two Alaska State Troopers, who were killed by a local resident during a confrontation. The incident exposed the deep-rooted social problems and tensions in the town, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health issues. Many residents have left the town in search of safer and more prosperous places.


Cordova is a town that is known for its fishing industry, especially for its salmon and halibut. However, the town is also dependent on the fishing industry, which makes it vulnerable to the fluctuations of the market, the regulations, and the environment.

The town has faced several challenges in recent years, such as the decline of the fish stocks, the competition from foreign imports, the impact of the oil spills, and the threat of the invasive species. The town has also been cut off from the road system since 2011, when a series of avalanches destroyed the only highway that connected the town to the rest of the state. Many residents have left the town due to the economic hardship, the isolation, and the uncertainty.


Whittier is a town that is located at the head of the Passage Canal, and is a popular destination for tourists and cruise ships. However, the town is also notorious for its unusual and claustrophobic living conditions, as most of the residents live in a single 14-story building, called the Begich Towers, which was built by the military in the 1950s.

The building also houses the school, the hospital, the post office, the grocery store, and the police station. The town is also known for its harsh weather, as it receives an average of 250 inches of rain and 150 inches of snow per year, and is often shrouded in fog and clouds. Many residents have left the town due to the lack of privacy, the lack of diversity, and the lack of amenities.


Barrow is a town that is located at the northernmost point of the United States, and is the largest and oldest settlement of the Inupiat people. However, the town is also one of the most remote and extreme places to live in, as it experiences long periods of darkness and daylight, freezing temperatures, and limited access to the outside world.

The town is also facing the effects of climate change, such as the melting of the sea ice, the erosion of the shoreline, the migration of the wildlife, and the alteration of the traditional lifestyle. The town has also experienced social problems, such as suicide, alcoholism, and violence, which have been linked to the loss of identity, culture, and purpose. Many residents have left the town in search of more comfortable and fulfilling lives.


Alaska is a state that offers many attractions and opportunities, but also many challenges and difficulties. Some of its towns are more affected by these factors than others, and have become undesirable places to live in. Many people have fled these towns as soon as possible, hoping to find better lives elsewhere.

However, some people have also stayed in these towns, either by choice or by necessity, and have tried to adapt and overcome the problems. These towns are not only examples of the consequences of climate change, economic decline, and social issues, but also examples of the resilience, perseverance, and diversity of the Alaskan people.

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