‘It was sad having to leave’: Climate crisis splits Alaskan town in half

All of Newtok’s 400 residents will have to move to higher ground but funding shortages and Covid means some are being left behind

Two years ago, Lisa Charles and her family moved from their lifelong home in the town of Newtok, Alaska, to Mertarvik, a 30-minute trip by boat or snow machine depending on the season.

Lisa is a member of one of the US’s first communities of climate transplants, though she is also Yup’ik, a mother of seven, a nonprofit employee, and a political volunteer. Melting permafrost has rapidly accelerated the erosion of the land under Newtok, bringing houses precariously close to the water’s edge.

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