Authorities on Monday contacted remote villages along the west coast of Alaska to determine the need for food and water and assess damage after a massive storm swamped the state’s coast over the weekend.
Members of the Alaska National Guard and the American Red Cross were deployed to the affected areas to determine the need for food, water and shelter. The state identified five communities – Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Golovin, Newtok, and Nome – most affected by the storm and flooding.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy Dunleavy declared a state of disaster on Saturday and the American Red Cross designated the storm as a Level 4 disaster, which allows the organization to raise money directly for recovery efforts, according to Dunleavy.
“State emergency crews and staff from organizations such as the Alaska Red Cross are being deployed today,” Dunleavy said in a tweet Monday. “All state guards and defense forces in the entire western region are being activated.”
As of Sunday, three communities – Elim, Unalakleet, and Hooper Bay – had a boil advisory in effect. There are no reports of injuries or deaths from the storm.
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The storm affected about 21,000 residents living in small communities along the west coast of Alaska.
As flood waters receded, damage to homes, roads and other infrastructure was revealed. Many houses were flooded or moved from their foundations by the rushing waters and strong winds.
The state transportation department said most airports in the area were open, and officials were making temporary or permanent repairs to the runways that remain problematic, according to Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Alaska.
The communities of Kotzebue and Kivalina were still without power Monday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Kaitlyn Lardeo.
To address the aftermath of the storm, all members of the Alaska National Guard in the western region of the state were activated and the American Red Cross sent 50 volunteers to the communities most in need.
The state’s emergency operations center is also fully staffed with military organizations, state agencies and volunteers to provide assistance.
Recovery efforts are urgently needed as a freeze-up, or the onset of winter is expected in about three weeks. Dunleavy assured that communities would be set up again as soon as possible during a news conference on Sunday.
“We need to convince our federal friends that this is not a Florida situation where we have months to work on this,” Dunleavy said during the conference. “We have several weeks.”
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Where is the storm now?
The massive storm was the remnants of Typhoon Merbok along Alaska’s 1,000-mile stretch of the west coast, where strong winds and high swells inundated the sparsely populated region.
AccuWeather called the former typhoon “one of the most intense storms” to hit the state recently after it transitioned from a tropical cyclone to a powerful non-tropical storm of wind and rain.
The surge of water from the Bering Sea on Friday brought significant coastal flooding and wind gusts that could reach hurricane strength, according to the Weather Service.
By Sunday, Dunleavy said the storm settled over the Chukchi Sea. The storm remained stalled Monday near northwest Alaska as it weakened after the most powerful stage.
Coastal flood warnings were extended until Monday for an area north of the Bering Strait as the water will be slow to recede in towns such as Kotzebue, Kivalina, and Shishmaref, Lardeo told the Associated Press.
Contributing to: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: West Alaskan storm: Damage assessments begin in remote villages