History of Kodiak History of Kodiak

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Kodiak History

The Great Alaskan Earthquake of March 27, 1964, and the tsunami that followed it, caused great destruction to Kodiak. Three Native villages, Chenega, Kaguyak, and Afognak, were destroyed. Twenty-three people died in Chenega, about a third of the population of the village. There were eleven deaths in the Kodiak Island area. The town of Kodiak was greatly damaged, as was the village of Ouzinkie. Old Harbor was practically demolished and had to be substantially rebuilt. Residents of Afognak were relocated to a new village, Port Lions, and Kaguyak villagers were moved to the existing community of Akhiok. While a considerable portion of Kodiak's fishing fleet was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami, the rebuilding of Kodiak city hastened its emergence as the "king crab capital." The canneries near Old Harbor and Ouzinkie, destroyed in the earthquake, were never rebuilt. As a result, processing was increasingly consolidated in the town of Kodiak. Some fishermen, both in villages and in centers such as Kodiak and Cordova, were able to buy bigger and more modern boats with disaster loans.

Both commercial and subsistence fishing were strongly affected by the huge Exxon Valdez oil spill which occurred on March 27, 1989. When the Exxon Valdez tanker hit Bligh Reef, it spilled almost 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. Response teams were unable to contain the oil before it was carried by currents throughout the entire area, ending as far south as Ivanof Bay on the Alaska Peninsula. The oil first hit Kodiak area beaches in mid-April. The salmon season was closed due to the fear of oil contamination of fish. Settlements from the oil spill have helped preserve a variety of Kodiak's public lands, adding acreage to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Afognak Island State Park and Shuyak Island State Park.

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