After a storm-battered western Alaska causing widespread flooding in several communities, officials are assessing the damage Sunday from one of the strongest storms to hit the state in decades.
Remnants of Typhoon Merbok brought on the worst storm in the state’s recent history but waned Sunday as it moved up towards the northwest, according to the National Weather Service. As the storm settles in the Chukchi Sea and floodwaters were receding in some parts of western Alaska, smaller communities on the northwest coast remain under a coastal flood advisory until Monday.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a state of disaster Saturday. At least five communities — Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Golovin, Newtok and Nome — have been impacted as of Sunday due to high water levels. Initial damage reports have shown erosion, electrical issues and power outages, according to Dunleavy.
The storm and flooding affected nearly 1,000 miles of the Alaska coastline, damaging roads and other infrastructure. Homes were seen to have moved off their foundations and one house in Nome floated down a river until it got caught at a bridge.
The state is expecting a freeze-up in about three weeks and state officials and federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are working to expedite recovery efforts for communities, Dunleavy said during a news conference Sunday afternoon.
“We’re gonna move as quickly as possible and we’ll be focusing on the communities that have really received damage and really need the help the most,” said Dunleavy. “Wherever there is help that is needed. We’ll be getting that help there as soon as possible.”
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About 450 residents on the western coast sought refuge in shelters and others looked for higher ground to ride out the storm. So far, no injuries or deaths have been reported.
A missing child in Hooper Bay was found safe, Dunleavy tweeted Sunday afternoon.
Officials said they will monitor and assess damages to seawalls, water and sewage systems, airports, and ports. Golovin Airport was reported to have lost power and there has been a water boil advisory for at least three communities, according to Dunleavy.
Starting Monday, teams consisting 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 Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Contributing: The Associated Press