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Opinion: Thank You, Unalaska!

Hope McKenney/KUCB

KUCB occasionally features opinions and voices from our community. If you'd like to share an opinion on a local or regional issue, email

Opinions are submitted by community members and have not been edited.

To Residents of Unalaska,

We are writing to try to express our deep gratitude for the amazing support we received October 17 and 18, 2019.

Our high school swim team was traveling to Unalaska from Cordova. Following the traumatic incident upon the landing of PenAir flight 3296, we were shaken up and without many basic necessities for our team members and chaperones.

Many team members exited the airplane without coats, backpacks, and phones. Immediately, and for the following hours into the night, your community more than responded to our needs for food, clothing, shelter, and comfort. We felt so loved and cherished! We can only imagine the support that your community has for each other when complete strangers were simply overwhelmed by gifts, and help.

Unalaska City School District administration, staff, students, and families, the Alexandria House, the Ounalashka Corporation, citizens, neighbors, and countless individuals stopped by to visit us and organize everything we needed to communicate with families at home.

We did not want to leave. We wanted to do what we came for: to swim, to become a part of your community, and to have another Alaskan experience in our beloved state. We saw you, the residents, get teary-eyed at the close call, not upset that your airport was closed and your access was virtually cut off. The concern was real by the first responders, ambulance assistants, medics, and firemen. Thank you one and all.

We were upset that we left suddenly. In retrospect, yes, it was a good idea to leave when we could. There were worried parents at home and you know how long it was until the next scheduled flight. But at the time, we wanted to at least say goodbye, even if we couldn’t participate in your Senior Night and swim meet. Thank you, Unalaska. It was a humbling experience and a close call. You live in a truly beautiful location, one some of us hope to return to and visit under better circumstances. Long distance friendships have been made and we hope to see them continue.

Above all, on this trip we met a town with a very, very big heart.


Cordova High School swim team, coaches, and chaperones