Owners of collapsed house hope to return to Eagle River
Daric and Michael Harkless fell in love with Alaska at first sight.
“We love going to Mount Baldy, going up Flattop,” Daric Harkless said Tuesday from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where her husband is stationed in the Army.
Michael was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2012, and in 2013, the couple bought a home in nearby Eagle River, where they planned to eventually settle permanently. The neighborhood they found off Eagle River Road was everything they could hope for.
“I loved just walking the sidewalks, I could take the whole sidewalk all the way into the town square,” she said.
Their dream home was located at the end of Dome Circle in the Eagle River Valley. The split-level wood home was where Daric dreamed of raising her young family, including a 1-year-old daughter and a second baby on the way.
This summer, the couple returned to Alaska and worked on the $319,000 home, getting a new roof put on and having the backyard redone.
“We wanted to make sure this house was prepared for us when we returned,” she said.
It won’t be.
The house collapsed in Friday’s earthquake, with the main living area falling in on the garage. The man inside — tenant Logan Cushman — narrowly escaped with his life.
Harkless said she laughed when her husband called with the news.
“He said there was an earthquake and the house collapsed and could explode,” she recalled. “I said, ‘What do you mean it collapsed?’”
After the news sank in, Harkless broke down.
“After the laughing I started crying,” she said.
The family does not have earthquake insurance and has been told the home is a complete loss that isn’t covered by their homeowner’s policy. Photos of the home show the a large crack running directly through the main structure, which has collapsed onto the smashed garage.
“If we could rebuild it we would in a second, but there’s no way with our current loan we could afford that,” she said.
Harkless said her property management company — Real Property Management — has been “great” helping she and her husband track down up-to-date information about the home.
The couple has set up an online fundraising account to help with expenses and Harkless said she’s looking into federal aid. On the campaign page, Harkless explains just how much she loved the home on Dove Circle:
“Our home was not the newest house on the block but it had characteristics that we loved. The beautiful two story home was located at the end of a cul-de-sac where we knew our kids could play safely outside without the fear of traffic. The living room had long windows covering the front wall letting it fill with natural light. The upper deck made you feel like you were in a tree house because of the large pine trees growing in the backyard. The attached garage made unloading groceries a breeze, especially when you wanted to avoid the cold winter air. It is hard to believe that we will never live in that house again.”
She said she’s thankful nobody was hurt in the collapse and said she feels for all the losses suffered by the two men living inside.
“My heart goes out to the renters,” she wrote.
But she’s hopeful something can be done that will allow she and her family to someday return to their dream home.
“It was perfect, it was our perfect location and everything we wanted.”
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org