NEW OLD KING OF THE HILL
Engine No. 69 pulls a string of combo and parlor cars near Clifton this fall. Photo courtesy WP&YR
WP&YR breaks 430,000 for new record
The White Pass & Yukon Route proudly announced Sept. 26 that it ended the 2005 season with a new annual ridership record of 430,037 revenue passengers breaking last years record of 404,722.
In a press release, Gary C. Danielson, President of the WP&YR, stated that, The team at White Pass achieved its third successive annual historic milestone by delivering on our goals of exceeding expectations and taking care of business.
This increased productivity came without compromising our safety and service levels a testament to the commitment and hard work of all of our employees!
The WP&YR took delivery of steam locomotive No. 69 late in the season. No.69 is a Baldwin 2-8-0 and was originally built for the White Pass in 1907. It was reacquired from the Stuhr Museum in Nebraska and underwent two years of restoration.
Commissioning and testing has been completed and the locomotive will enter service next year to complement No. 73 in an enhanced steam charter program, the new release said.
No. 69 was brought out to start the Klondike Road Relay with its Chinese-made whistle (switched out later for a more pleasing sounding whistle borrowed from No. 73), and also made some passes through Skagway and test runs up the hill on the final days of the season.
While cruise numbers will be a bit softer next season due to the expected loss of the Crystal Harmony and other redeployments, the railroad is planning for future growth.
Engine 69 and restorers Steve and Jason prepare to start runners at the Klondike Road Relay. JB
Construction of an extension to the Broadway Dock has already commenced and will be completed over the winter, enabling White Pass to accept the new, longer ships scheduled to arrive in Skagway over the next few years, Danielson said. This investment demonstrates our commitment to the future despite forecasted decreased cruise ship passengers to Skagway in 2006 due to one-time ship schedule changes.
Hurrican Katrina changes lives for those there, those who want to help
Sister Judy salvages faith from flood-devastated New Orleans home
By JEFF BRADY
Sister Judy Gomila was allowed to return to her convent, church and mission office in Ninth Ward of New Orleans Monday, and was glad to be wearing the Sorel boots that she brought with her from Alaska.
The smell will get you, she said via cell phone later that day from her new temporary home north of the city in Port Allen. The muck and mud was terrible but I still have my Sorels.... The mud was so sticky. Snow was easier to get off these boots.
The Ninth Ward was one of the hardest hit areas by flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a month ago.
The first floor of her Holy Angels Convent, where she lived, was devastated. At her church, pews were piled on top of each other like boys at a football scrimmage. At the mission office, where she worked, water came within three inches of the ceiling. The mud covered bookshelves, upside-down chairs, and crosses on the wall from all over the world. She tried to take pictures for insurance purposes, but the mud made everything dark. You cant tell what stuff was what, she said.
Gomila was able to save only one cross and a little globe. For me too, I guess, its like so many people say, its only material stuff. Time will pass.
She was glad to be able to get out of the city with 70 other nuns, and now is doing all she can to help people in various shelters in the Baton Rouge area.
When you tell them, Im from the Ninth Ward, they know what we went through, she said. Theres a point of identity with them.
Its been wonderful, but not easy, she said after the salvage trip to New Orleans. Before lunch today, I couldnt stop crying.
What keeps her going is faith, the spirit of the people whom she and other nuns are helping, and all the uplifting calls from Alaska that get through. One Skagway woman called her for five straight days. Others called from Juneau, Yakutat, Hoonah.
I cant tell you what that kind of support does for you.... people track you down and say hello that people connection is so powerful, she said.
Gomila lived and worked in Skagway and other Southeast Alaska communities for the Juneau Diocese for more than a decade before returning to her home state of Louisiana a few years ago.
She was at a meeting northeast of the city in Lake Ramsey, Louisiana as Katrina approached. She had one change of clothes with her when the call came to get people out of there and not come home. They moved with 70 other nuns who were evacuated from New Orleans to St. Joseph Abbey at St. Benedict, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
There were 40-45 with beds, and the rest of us were on the floor, she said. I had my Alaska sleeping bag with me, and thats where we rode out Katrina.
Sister Judy plays a game with children at St. Therese's Catholic Church in 1996. Matt Pranger
After the storm, the waters came and they had to leave. There was no communication, so she and another nun drove north until they found a phone that worked in Baton Rouge.
We started calling places where we could farm out nuns, she said. People would take four or five here, two or three there. We are all safe, blessed spread hither, thither and yon.
The New Orleans Diocese has set up offices in a closed shopping center in Baton Rouge, and Sister Judy has been working at two shelters in Port Allen.
They will be there until January at the earliest. People are just starting to return to New Orleans to gather up whatever they can save before the bulldozers come. Theres so much flood damage, and so much mold, she said. Only you know whats salvageable.
At Port Allen, she helps people from New Orleans who worked all their lives and lost everything, but they feel lucky to have each other.
I met five generations, all in one shelter, and they told me how happy they are just to be together, she said.
Their lives have changed, profoundly, and she is reaching inward for an explanation.
After a mission trip to Africa in June, Gomila said she wanted to simplify her life more, but I didnt think Id go this far. Katrina simplified it more than I thought.
She says she goes from being light-hearted to bursting into tears, from being active to just staring into space and wondering whats it all about?
Then she answers her own question.
Its about faith. Ive seen faith right here at home. Bottom line, its all for Jesus.
It was a natural disaster. I believe it was a message, but it can be different for everyone.
Its not, as some have written, a punishment from God for the sins of the city. Thats not how my God works.
Skagway man signs up for Red Cross deployment
By MOLLY McCLUSKEY
Steve Sue Wing just wants to do the right thing.
Its why, when the hurricane destroyed New Orleans, he immediately contacted the American Red Cross to see about volunteering. And its why, in a few weeks, hell fly down to the ravaged area, and do what he can to help.
It really was just a no-brainer, he says.
Several different factors contributed to his decision. Skagway, the community in general, is very open to this sort of thing, he said. I have a flexible schedule at my job with TEMSCO, and I realized I could make this happen.
Sue Wing isnt sure what, exactly, will happen when he arrives in New Orleans, or even if hell be going there at all. The Red Cross calls its volunteers to where the need is the greatest, and although he signed up during the days of Hurricane Katrina, Rita might have other plans.
American Red Cross Southeast District Director George Briggs said that despite the uncertainty of when volunteers will be deployed, or what area theyll be going to, there are a few certainties. Sue Wing has his commercial drivers license, and Briggs says that will come in handy. Sue Wing will most likely be driving a ERV, an emergency response vehicle, his preferred position.
Transportation is a large issue right now, moving supplies and even possibly delivering food, Su Wing said. Between snacks and meals, the Red Cross has fed nearly 20,000 people in the hurricane areas.
Along with doctors, nurses and mental health workers, drivers with a CDL are listed as one of the highest needs.
Sue Wing has made a three-week commitment with the Red Cross to volunteer. As he talks about the time hell be gone, it seems as though hell want to stay longer, until the job is done.
Weeks before leaving, he mentions that he might call and request his date be moved up, and he says that its very likely hell do another stint. But hes aware that the time restriction is there for a reason.
We were told to expect 12 to 16-hour days, with maybe a half day or full day off every so often, he said. The housing varies. You could be sleeping in a tent or a hotel room. In one area, the junior high had been cleared out for emergency shelter. The faculty lounge housed all the volunteers.
STEVE SU WING
Theyve found three weeks is about the time volunteers start to burn out.
Adds Briggs,If youve never been to a disaster of this magnitude, its like going to war.
As a result, all volunteers are encouraged to bring their cell phones, use e-mail when available. Sue Wing is looking forward to staying in touch with his family and the community, letting everyone know what the situation is truly like in the hurricane areas.
Whats been going on down there has been so sensationalized in the media, he said. I got tired of seeing the same pictures over and over. It was like the (Indian Ocean) tsunami that was all over the news (last Christmas) and now you never hear about it. I want to see the transition process, want to see the role the government is going to play. I want to be more in tune with the problems in New Orleans that have been highlighted by this tragedy.
Although Sue Wing was touched by the devastation of the tsunami, he had a different reaction to the destruction of Katrina.
New Orleans is closer to home, he said. The tsunami was a disaster, but this, this is on our own soil. Im taking it more personally. That one of the leading countries in the world could let this happen is just an embarrassment.
Sue Wings recent training in Juneau consisted of an hour-long video with an introduction to the Red Cross, then a two-hour classroom orientation on what to expect.
It was pretty gruesome, he said. But the trainer told us that if we were scared away, it was okay. Because better now, in a classroom, then out in the field.
The reaction to his volunteering has been generally positive, Sue Wing says. Ive gotten a lot of thank yous. A couple people said they wished they could go. Theres some fear of uncertainty, they worry about sickness. Some of the shelters are dealing with crime. But overall, the response has been generally positive.
Sue Wing says none of his friends or family were surprised. Anne Hutchinson, a colleague at TEMSCO, said the move is part of Sue Wings character.
The first thing he thought about when Katrina hit was how he could help, she said. Steve thinks a lot about how he can make things easier on people. I wasnt surprised he would do something like this.
The relief efforts in the Gulf area will be ongoing. The Red Cross estimates volunteer deployment for at least another six months and will continue its fundraising efforts until the need is met. They are still accepting both donations and volunteer applications. For further information, contact Sue Wings volunteer recruiter Carlene Bergquist at (907) 463-5713 or Southeastern Regional Director George Briggs at (907) 209-2599.
Sue Wings current deployment date is Oct. 28.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
VOTER STANDS Can you tell from their stances who they are, or maybe how they voted? Turnout was good at Tuesdays election. There were 382 ballots counted, and two questioned ballots. Another 139 absentees will determine the final outcome. JB
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