Kodiak, AK Katmai Volcano Explosion, June 1912
HOMES IN RUINS; FOOD IS SCARCE.
REFUGEES FROM VOLCANIC DISASTER IN ALASKA ARE IN DESPERATE STRAITS.
DRINKING SEA WATER THAT IS DISTILLED BY REVENUE CUTTER MANNING AT KODIAK IS ALL THAT PEOPLE HAVE, FRESH SUPPLY BEING POLLUTED BY ASH FROM VOLCANO. STORES OF FOOD AND CLOTHING ARE COMPLETELY DESTROYED -- NATIVES BELIEVE PRESENT ERUPTION IS MERELY FORERUNNER OF WHAT IS TO COME.
Cordova, Alaska, June 12. -- Wireless messages received today from the revenue cutter Manning, in Kodiak harbor, and from the Alaska Packers' association's fishing stations at Kariuk, Chignik and Naknek, said that there has been no report of loss of life on the island.
No word has been received from the settlements on the mainland, at the foot of Katmai volcano, where the greatest suffering exists, if any of the people of that section survived the eruption.
Capt. Kirtland W. Perry of the Manning reported that no more eruptions have occurred and the air is slowly clearing of the smoke and ash, the returning light revealing in greater degree the real horrors and devastation wrought by the outburst of the fiery mountain.
The refugees who were aboard the Manning have regained a certain amount of confidence with the return of normal conditions in the air and are leaving the ship to endeavor to reach their former homes, which lie in ruins. The people on the island have found it difficult to make their way about, the ash in some places being from 20 to 30 feet deep.
Nearly all the houses are in ruins and those that withstood the attack of the fall of ash and stones are unhabitable because of the fine silt which drifted through every crevice, making useless the stores of food and clothing.
The problem of feeding the destitute people is a serious one. Efforts are being made to reach the government experimental farm, near Kodiak, which was stocked with a large herd of imported cattle and sheep, which, if found in fit condition, will be used for food.
The only water the people at Kodiak are using is that distilled from sea water by the Manning, all other supplies being useless because of pollution.
At the fishing stations, Kariuk, Chignik and Naknek no loss of life occurred but great damage was done by the fall of ash and sand. Preparations were made at the fishing stations to take all on board the cannery tenders and seek safety at sea, but the people have decided to stay near their properties as long as conditions are endurable. It is feared that the fishing season at all stations affected by the ash will be a complete failure because of the polluted water, large quantities of pure water being necessary to prepare the salmon for canning.
Total darkness covered the entire section about the canneries, which are on the shore of Shellkof Strait, for 40 hours. Their proximity to the volcano caused the people in the cannery towns to realize that they stood almost at the cannon's mouth as the thunderous blasts from the volcano shook the ground beneath them. The white men had much difficulty restraining the natives, who were panic stricken.
No game has been seen on Kodiak Island since the eruption began, and it is probable that much animal life was destroyed.
Most of the white refugees at Kodiak believe that the worst is over as far as danger from Katmai Volcano is concerned, but the natives are less confident and believe an evil spirit has been sent to destroy them. They say the present tortures are but forerunners of ultimate death which is to overtake them and the rest of the world. They are anxious to leave the immediate vicinity of the island.
Anaconda Standard Montana 1912-06-13