State shares details on response, recovery plans for west coast storm
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveiled plans in a press conference held Sunday that included state officials allocating resources to western Alaska communities in the coming days.
“At least five communities have been impacted greatly, with a combination of high water, flooding, erosion, electrical issues, (and) issues with the airport,” Dunleavy said.
Towns and villages along the west coast including, but not limited to Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Golovin, Newtok, and Nome have seen tremendous destruction over the course of the weekend.
“We will be marshaling resources that will quickly be on the ground,” Dunleavy said. “And we’ll begin the process of helping people recover from this quickly.”
With only a few weeks until freeze-up in many parts of Alaska, there’s extra urgency behind getting repairs and recovery done as soon as possible. In some places, though, the relief efforts can’t start yet. The tail end of the storm is expected to continue to linger for a little longer, causing continued high water levels in some areas.
State emergency teams and staff from organizations such as the Red Cross of Alaska are being deployed Monday, according to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
“To get the real needs assessment, in terms of what’s needed for water, food, shelter for the communities that have been impacted, that’s going for the entire area of the storm,” division commissioner Bryan Fisher said.
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner, Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, said Sunday that all guardsmen and state defense forces in the entire western region are being activated.
“It is critical to have boots on the ground,” Saxe said. “So we want to start this today. More air assets are moving into the area, there will be three helicopters in Nome, and one in Bethel.”
Beyond the safety of the community, one of the main priorities is assessing and repairing damages.
“Once we identify needs for things, for example, plywood and roofing material and insulation to replace the stuff that was damaged from flood waters, once we get an accurate account of needs, we’ll be able to send those materials west,” Fisher said.
The hope is that the federal government will step in to help, but for now, Alaskans are working together to get people back on their feet.
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