Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy returned Wednesday from a three-day trip to communities heavily impacted by the Western Alaska storm, the remnants of Typhoon Merbok.
Governor Dunleavy and his team, including Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ryan Anderson, and the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, visited Bethel, Scammon Bay, Hooper Bay, Newtok, Nome, Golovin, Elim, and Koyuk.
“This trip has been essential to understanding the scope of the damage across Western Alaskan communities and acting to properly support the effort,” said Maj. Gen. Saxe. “Our deployed force of more than 130 service members based out of Bethel and Nome are focused on getting out to these communities and sustaining the recovery process.”
“The storm surge and high winds last weekend damaged personal property, drinking water systems, airport weather equipment, fuel tanks, and both local and state roads,” said Commissioner Anderson. “Our maintenance workers and airport contractors went to work before the winds died down—removing debris from our airports and roads and repairing our airport lighting systems. Now we are bringing in inspectors, contractors, and construction teams to get the hardest hit roadways reopened and in good conditions before it gets colder. We’re also working with the local communities to connect them with the state and federal resources they need to repair their local roads.”
Over the past few days, the World Kitchen delivered thousands of pounds of food and water to communities with the most damage, such as Golovin and Hooper Bay. The State has now identified 89 residences so far with severe impacts throughout the communities. The information on filing for Individual Public Assistance will be released tomorrow, detailing how to apply and where to apply. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Administrator Deanne Criswell is arriving tomorrow to tour the area and view the damage.
Over 120 personnel from the National Guard, Alaska State Defense Force, and Alaska Naval Militia Alaska are on orders for disaster response. They are deploying military aircraft to Bethel and Nome; then to local communities to assist with materials for immediate emergency temporary residential repair and storm debris cleanup.
Prior to landfall, the State Emergency Operation Center hosted Typhoon Merbok conference calls with the Pribilof Island, Seward Peninsula, Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, and Northwest Arctic Borough communities to provide warnings and urge preparedness. Based on preliminary reports early Saturday morning, September 17, Governor Dunleavy declared a State disaster emergency for communities impacted by the storm at the advice of Director Bryan Fisher. On September 20th, Governor Dunleavy requested a federal disaster declaration for the storm. Governor Dunleavy also submitted a legislative notification to request concurrence to increase the funding limitation to $10 million from the Disaster Relief Fund.
Other Major State Agency Responses:
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working on reports of local contaminant spills and water/wastewater issues. DEC is also evaluating community water systems in the storm impact area and is publishing boil water notices as appropriate.
- United States Coast Guard (USCG) continues to survey environmental impacts in the storm area and has a ready response for Search and Rescue. USCG reports that storm impacts have not impacted west coast communities from receiving bulk fuel deliveries with over-the-shore “soft hose” delivery available when a coastal fuel header is inoperable.
- Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys is in the storm impact area collecting high-water marks to record and calibrate the storm’s historical impact.
- Alaska DOT has reopened all airports in the storm impact area and is actively working to repair roads and state facilities. Crews checked the Safety Sound bridge on the Nome-Council Road and determined the bridge is intact, though parts of the road are washed out.
- United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have checked the Port in Nome, and there are no issues. USACE Engineers are evaluating the Nome Seawall and Shishmaref Bank Protection projects.
- Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (DHS&EM) launched a website that houses anything related to the storm, alaska.gov/Storm.