Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Governor Sarah Palin Visits Eagle, Alaska; Other Communities Along Yukon And Kuskokwim Rivers Still Flooding, Including Bethel And Tanana

View all posts on the 2009 Interior Alaska floods HERE, in inverse chronological order. The most recent post will appear first.

Note: A National Weather Service list of current flood watches and advisories for Interior Alaska is available HERE.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin visited flood-ravaged Eagle on Monday May 11th, 2009. And Governor Palin was pretty "awed" by what she saw. "I've been watching the news and seeing the pictures and getting the updates, but unless you're here and you're seeing this ice and touching this ice and you're seeing the power of the ice and the water and what it can do to structures -- it doesn't do it justice when we're watching it on TV," Palin said. "To be here and to see and hear how it has impacted lives is very significant."

Warm days help rot the ice that pounded through and still sits here, but it's going to be a long time before it all clears out. The National Park Service's Pat Sanders knows the area well, having lived here for 29 years. "None of us have any tears left," Sanders said. "The magnitude of what has happened and the feelings that all of us ... the one remarkable thing about Eagle Village and Eagle Proper is the resiliency of the people. That is certainly coming into focus. Everyone is pulling together, it's just remarkable." Watch KTUU news video for this story HERE, and a video of a four-minute interview with Governor Palin HERE.

Special Note: KTUU has changed the embed coding on their videos, so that one cannot embed more than one video per blog page any more. The effect is the same on all Blogger blogs regardless of template used. Thus I can only post links to the videos until the previous embed drops off this page.

Along the Yukon River: At Stevens Village the river has crested. Most families were evacuated over the weekend. Only five homes and the school escaped damage. At Rampart and Tanana, water continues to rise. In Tanana, elders in low-lying parts of the community were moved to higher ground. Flooding at Nulato is expected because the village is in a low-lying area. Water levels did drop during the afternoon of May 11th, but when ice jams upriver release, levels could rise quickly. Beaver and Koyokuk have also been evacuated. KIYU is providing flood information for Galena. Map of area HERE. Watch the specific KTUU news story HERE.

Update: On the afternoon of May 12th, Tanana began flooding in earnest as a 16-mile long ice breakup front flowed past the city during the night and then jammed downstream.

Along the Kuskokwim River: Akiak and Tuluksak got some relief when an ice jam below Akiak broke Monday morning. But the release of the ice jam below Akiak meant rising waters for Kwethluk. Homes along the river were evacuated Monday and school was canceled. McGrath had some spotty flooding, but the threat for them is over. In Bethel the river began rising Monday afternoon. Flooding is expected there as well as in three villages below Bethel -- Oscarville, Napakiak and Napaskiak. Map of area HERE. More information on the overall situation posted on The Village blog HERE, and a separate post about the Bethel situation HERE.

The air lifeline into Interior Alaska has been partially affected. Officials conducted an aerial survey of some of the rural village airports on the Kuskokwim River, and found the airports at Red Devil and Aniak affected by flooding. At Red Devil, water had flowed over the first 600 feet of the runway, but the runway has since been graded and reshaped. Currently, all state-owned rural airports between Red Devil and Kalskag are operational. However, the Tuluksak runway is under water, and there is no way to estimate the damage to Tuluksak's runway until the water subsides.

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