First Posted: 2/9/2009
In a time where every news segment, every newspaper and every radio station is talking about the economy, I think it is time to point out that it could be worse.
I am not attempting to downplay the impact of the recession in this area, I know that it is bad. What I am attempting to do, however, is prove that people have survived worse and even today are surviving worse.
I have yet been asked to pay $10 for a gallon of milk, $22 for a dozen eggs or $15 for a five-pound bag of apples. These prices are a daily reality for people living in rural Alaska. On top of the prices at the store, many residents living in those areas are forced to travel more than an hour to reach the nearest store. During this time of year, when the entire state is covered with a blanket of snow and ice, traveling that distance can only be accomplished with the use of snowmobiles or similar transportation. The rising fuel costs coupled with the fact that the state has seen one of the coldest winters on record means that many people are not even able to make the trip to town and are living on whatever they were able to store during the summer.
Even with the approach of the Iditarod on March 7, the annual sled dog race across the state, and the thousands of competitors and spectators it will surely draw, those dollars will be poured into Anchorage and Nome, the start and end of the race, respectively. Those living in the more rural areas will not see that money. That race alone also will not cause prices to go down for basic food commodities.
Many residents have called for the legislature to declare a state of emergency but the average income has not dropped low enough for the government to heed the call even though the set income does not account for the current cost of living.
While I realize these people chose to live in an area that is covered with snow for much of the year and knew that times would be tough when they moved, they were still unprepared for the recent turn of events.
So, while I know that things are bad here and that jobs are almost impossible to find, I would like to remind you that times could indeed be worse. Most of us can reach a grocery store, a doctor and a drug store in 20 minutes or less. The people in rural Alaska do not have that luxury.
Morgan Wall is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy New. She can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1929.