UPDATE: For more on the new Crooked Creek homes, check out our full story here.
From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Moose hoof Jell-O, root beer and fried chicken topped the cafeteria tables in the Crooked Creek school lunchroom today as the Kuskokwim River village celebrated an early Thanksgiving.
The occasion: Nine families plan to move into boxy new homes, designed by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, in the next few days.
Volunteers for faith-based relief groups finished the housing just in time for winter. The mountains already are dusted with snow just south of the town.
Helen Macar, 37, was five months pregnant when the worst spring flooding in memory shoved her home from its foundation and floated it 100 feet back in May.
Here's what her old house looks like today, with a cold wind racing through the broken window and dusty Xbox games spilling down the shelves:
And here's a look at her new home, built by Samaritan's Purse and other volunteers with partial funding from the state:
Macar let me tag along today as she took her first look inside the new home. This is what she saw:
The state flew reporters to the village for a brief visit and to catch the potlatch celebrating the new housing. There was at least one surprise.
Donlin Gold, the company that ferried villagers to safety with a helicopter the night of the flood, presented traditional council president Evelyn Thomas with a foot-long, $50,000 check.
Thomas will finally be able to fix the health clinic door, she told the crowd.
Look for a more complete story later today.