After a storm in western Alaska caused widespread flooding in several communities, officials are assessing damage Sunday from one of the strongest storms to hit the state in decades.
The remnants of Typhoon Merbok caused the state’s worst storm in recent history, but weakened Sunday as it moved northwest, according to the National Weather Service. As the storm moves into the Chukchi Sea and floodwaters recede in parts of western Alaska, smaller communities on the Northwest Coast remain under a coastal flood warning until Monday.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy declared a state of disaster on Saturday. At least five communities – Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Golovin, Newtok and Nome – have been affected since Sunday due to high water levels. According to Dunleavy, initial damage reports have shown erosion, electrical problems and power outages.
The storm and flooding affected nearly 1,000 miles of Alaska’s coastline, damaging roads and other infrastructure. Homes were seen to be moved off their foundations and a house in Nome floated down a river until it was caught on a bridge.
The state expects a freeze in about three weeks, and state officials and federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are working to speed recovery efforts in communities, Dunleavy said during a news conference sunday afternoon
“We’re going to move as quickly as possible and focus on the communities that have really been damaged and really need the most help,” Dunleavy said. “Wherever there is help that is needed. We will get that help there as soon as possible.”
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About 450 West Coast residents sought shelter in shelters and others sought higher ground to ride out the storm. So far, no injuries or deaths have been reported.
A missing child in Hooper Bay has been found safe, Dunleavy tweeted Sunday afternoon.
Officials said they will monitor and assess damage to levees, water and sewer systems, airports and ports. According to Dunleavy, Golovin Airport was reported to have lost power and there has been a boil water advisory for at least three communities.
Starting Monday, teams made up of state emergency professionals and the American Red Cross will visit communities to assess repairs and the need for food, water and shelter, said Bryan Fisher, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Management of Alaska Emergencies.
Contributor: The Associated Press