For most of 2018, Chefornak has had a problem. The village relies on barges to deliver some goods and supplies like most of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, but the Chefornak jetty hasn’t been accessible for months. A generous federal tribal grant might go a long way toward fixing that problem.
Chefornak’s jetty has been broken for a few years now, but in 2017 the situation got worse. It was damaged by 2017’s breakup, and then battered by this year’s winter storms. Barges couldn’t get close enough to it.
"One of them got stuck in the mud by the jetty when they tried to get closer," said Chefornak Executive Director Bernadette Lewis. "The boulders around it are very dangerous; they had to look for sides to park their boats."
Lewis said that supplies were still getting through to the village, but there's just no telling how much the broken jetty may have impacted delivery times or prices.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave Chefornak a $450,000 grant to address the problem under a provision known as “imminent threat,” which gives resources to federally-recognized Native tribes to address unique situations that could endanger others.
Lewis said that the community learned that they had won the grant on April 18. They’re excited to get the funding, though she suspects it would take as much as $1.2 million to fix the village jetty permanently. A temporary fix is better than nothing, she says, and Chefornak plans to hire locally for the project. She expects to receive the HUD grant some time this week and said that the jetty will be fixed as soon as possible.