Alaska National Guard activated to assist in weather-related Fairbanks evacuations

Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 9:35 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Members of the Alaska National Guard in the Fairbanks area are stepping in to provide assistance evacuating stranded residents as extreme winter weather conditions persist in Interior Alaska.

The Alaska National Guard announced Friday that some of its members, and members of the Air National Guard, who live in the Fairbanks North Star Borough have volunteered for “Operation Winter Storms” in order to assist other residents with “emergency transportation needs.”

According to a press release from the office of Borough Mayor Bryce Ward, the borough requested that a state team of personnel be equipped to assist in “retrieving residents who have been unable to leave their homes due to the dangerous snow and ice conditions created by the recent winter storm.” Fairbanks and surrounding areas have been pummeled with a dangerous mix of rain and snow over the last week, leading to icy roads, dangerous driving conditions and power outages.

“The activated Guard personnel will be on standby to assist local emergency medical services with humanitarian rescue efforts for sheltered residents who have experienced extreme difficulties and cannot leave their homes due to the recent winter storm,” the release states.

Borough Public Information Officer Lanien Livingston said via email on Friday that the borough has been getting reports of “many residents” who are having a hard time leaving their homes and getting out of their driveways due to snow.

“There were many areas in and around Fairbanks that were impassable, however that was a couple of days ago,” Livingston wrote. “Alaska DOT, and the City of Fairbanks have been working around the clock to clear and remove snow. Most of the main roadways are clear and traffic is moving.”

The Fairbanks North Star Borough made a request to the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center, which in turn requested the efforts from the National Guard.

“There is additional concern that conditions could worsen over the weekend, as the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory through Saturday,” a press release from the Alaska National Guard states.

The State Emergency Operations Center is remaining in contact with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and with officials in the affected communities to monitor the situation and respond as needed.

“I am extremely grateful for the support from the Alaska National Guard to provide recovery assistance to our law enforcement and emergency service personnel over the next few days,” Ward in the press release from his office. “The Alaska National Guard’s support will enable emergency personnel to access distressed residents who are without power and unable to leave their homes due to snow. Thank you to the Governor and his team at the Alaska National Guard for providing the additional support needed to prevent a tragedy. At the same time, we will continue to dig out of the record snowstorm and bring our services back online.”

The borough reminds residents to call 911 if they’re experiencing an emergency. For other resources, call Fairbanks North Star Borough Emergency Management at 907-371-6059.

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