AK man picks up an extra shift at work, misses landslide that destroyed his home

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A man whose home was destroyed by a landslide this week in Juneau said the outcome could have been worse had he not picked up an extra shift at work.

“Fortunately, I wasn’t at home at the moment, but I was there about an hour and a half before it happened, so I’m very lucky to be alive,” Jin Mitchem told the Juneau Empire.

“I was at work, and I was notified by a neighbor who was asking if I was OK and alive and I was like, ‘What?’ I had no idea,” he said.

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Heavy rains preceded the landslide Monday night. It brought trees and other debris crashing down hundreds of feet above Gastineau Avenue in Alaska’s capital.

Mitchell’s home was destroyed, and two others were damaged. But a guardrail and a pickup truck stopped the debris from falling down onto streets below Gastineau in the mountain city.

Jin Mitchem coincidentally escaped a landslide that destroyed his home in Alaska. 

Jin Mitchem coincidentally escaped a landslide that destroyed his home in Alaska. 

Most of the debris — about 15 truck loads — had been removed by Wednesday evening, and the street has been reopened to traffic. The remaining debris was to have been hauled out Thursday morning.

Mitchem is staying with a relative, waiting to see if insurance will cover the damage.

“It looked like something from out of a movie. It didn’t feel like it was from this world,” he said after seeing the damage to his home.

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An online fundraising campaign stood at $41,400 of its $200,000 goal for Mitchem as of Thursday.

“I’m so grateful for the Juneau community,” Mitchem said. “If you’re going to have your home destroyed, Juneau is the best place to do it. I’ve had countless numbers of people reaching out, offering their homes and assistance and love.”

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Tom Mattice, Juneau’s emergency program manager, said power has been restored to most everyone in the area. Most people living near the slide have returned to their homes as officials say they are confident the slide poses no further risk.

However, he encouraged residents to remain alert as another storm was predicted to start dropping heavy rain as early as Thursday and continuing through the weekend.

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