Alaska governor declares disaster in Buckland after ice jam causes flooding

An ice jam on the Buckland River flooded the village of Buckland on May 12. The area is still...
An ice jam on the Buckland River flooded the village of Buckland on May 12. The area is still recovering from the flood.(Donita Jones)
Published: May. 17, 2021 at 10:35 AM AKDT|Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 10:43 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Almost a week after homes in Buckland were submerged due to flooding caused by an ice jam on the Buckland River, Gov. Mike Dunleavy activates disaster recovery programs to assist the city and native village in the area.

The Monday morning announcement from the governor’s office said the disaster declaration will activate the state’s individual and public assistance disaster recovery programs.

“I have directed all state agencies to provide assistance in the most expeditious manner possible,” Dunleavy said in the announcement. “The flooding caused significant damage to homes, roads and utility infrastructure so a declaration is warranted to get the community back on its feet as soon as possible.”

RELATED: Flooding in Buckland reaches homes, cuts off access roads and airport

On May 12, the City of Buckland and the Northwest Arctic Borough began to experience flooding, which brought more than five feet of water and some river ice into the community. The flooding submerged homes and required local residents to evacuate, according to the governor’s office.

The ice jam also caused flooding to the water treatment plant, requiring the area to be under a boil water advisory, according to the announcement. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a boil water advisory means a community’s water has, or could have, germs that can make an individual sick.

In addition to the possible water contamination, the governor’s office said some homes are without heat due to stove oil barrels being displaced by the flood.

“We’re sad to see this happen to the people of Buckland, but the city, tribe, and borough’s response to this event has been incredible,” said Bryan Fisher, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “This community had a Small Community Emergency Response Plan and enacted it immediately. Coordination between Buckland, the Northwest Arctic Borough and the state has been seamless. The leadership and residents of Buckland should be commended for their preparedness, quick actions, and resilience.”

The governor’s office noted that the water level has dropped in the area and responders have begun “a more thorough damage assessment.”

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