OLD HARBOR -- Early January in Old Harbor, on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska, offers reminders that weather is a force humans are wise to respect. High winds during the same storm that wreaked havoc with Shell's oil rig caravan ripped a shed apart at the town dump, sending the roof careening into the fence they'd constructed to keep bears away. Fishermen know if they want to come home alive, they can't push their luck with angry, turbulent seas. And in this area of the coast, the sea is often roiling too much to even think about trying to land a boat on Sitkalidak Island's southern shore, where the Kulluk remains stuck and perhaps, damaged from below.
Full story: In Old Harbor, hitting the rock
The community on the southwestern edge of Kodiak Island, accessible only by air or boat, is being established as a local staging area for the larger response. Boom, the material used to contain oil on the water and keep it out of streams, has been shipped in. A Shell employee and a Coast Guard member made it to Old Harbor on Thursday to talk with select people there face to face. Another team is in Kodiak waiting to helicopter in, if the weather will let them.