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Residents in Alaska's Arctic search for woman gone missing 2 weeks ago

Alex DeMarban
A visitor to Barrow takes pictures of the Arctic Ocean in June.
Stephen Nowers photo
Barrow, Alaska artist Larry Okomailak.
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Larry Okomailak polishes a piece of baleen to make a sail at the traditional crafts workshop at the Barrow Museum.
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Baleen outside the Barrow Museum
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Barrow artist Herman Ahsoak makes ulus at the Barrow Museum.
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The AC Store in Barrow.
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Houses and backyards in Barrow.
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A quonset hut in Barrow.
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The city of Barrow, Alaska.
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Barrow sits on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.
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The price of a gallon of milk in Barrow was $11.39 in June 2011.
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A cultivated garden in Barrow.
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Through door-to-door searches, Facebook postings and on posters tacked around town and in other villages, North Slope residents are calling out for help finding a friend who's been missing in Barrow for two weeks.

Eliza Simmonds, 28, disappeared from the city of 4,300 on May 13, said her older sister. Simmonds is outgoing and popular, with lots of friends, said Kathereen Lieb, 30.    

"I'm trying not to worry, but I know something is wrong," said Lieb.

Simmonds has not texted Lieb or called their mom since she vanished. She's always been in touch almost daily, Lieb said.

Police chief Leon Boyea said foul play was not suspected. The police have an open missing-person case and are following up on leads and rumors. They have reason to believe Simmonds was seen May 21 by at least one person.  

"Our interest at this point is contacting her, checking her welfare and making sure she's OK," he said.

Simmonds and Lieb live in Atqasuk, an Inupiat village 60 miles south of Barrow.

Simmonds had been in Barrow, the nation's coldest city, since March. She'd gone to see her three children who live there, and stayed with her grandmother, said Lieb. 

Not long after arriving in Barrow, Simmonds ended up in the hospital with severely frost-bitten feet after she'd been injured, perhaps after being struck by a car in a hit-and-run, doctors guessed, according to Simmonds.

She was intoxicated and walking home when the accident occurred, said her sister. One side of her body was bruised, but she still managed to walk home in the cold with a fractured ankle and missing one shoe.

The hospital released after her two months.

Friends and family on Simmonds' open Facebook page have posted lots of requests begging her to come home.

Jennifer Cora Simmonds wrote, "that felt like the longest walk ever looking for Eliza Simmonds and looking into abandon buildings but it's worth it and I really don't mind doing it again please help us find her.."

Stephanie Kippi wrote, "Eliza....Where are you??? Aurora asks every now and then about you, every time she sees your white charger you left here. U need to know that we all care about you, more then you know...and everyone is sickly worried about you! Especially Aaka!! If you read this, call me any time of the hour day or nite, please.....love u!"

Jeffrey Aveoganna wrote on Wednesday, "There are a lot of ppl here at Barrow RescueBase if anyone wants to help with the search. We are making a Community effort in trying to find her. We are just trying to come up with a plan on how we are goin to conduct this effort! Anyone n everyone is encouraged to give a helping hand!!!"

People have posted signs in Barrow and other villages with a picture of Simmonds, and details about her height and weight.

A scan of the sea ice outside Barrow, from a helicopter dispatched by the North Slope Borough, turned up no sign of Simmonds, according to the Anchorage Daily News.