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Akiak flooding forced evacuations

By Rachel D’Oro
Anchorage, Alaska (AP) 5-09

Elders and pregnant women were evacuated from a flooded Kuskokwim River village during early May, Alaska responders said.

Bryan Fisher, an incident commander with the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said 37 people including four pregnant women were flown from Akiak to the hub town of Bethel 25 miles southwest.

“There’s water in a lot of the village right now,” Fisher said. “The runway is operational.”

Fisher said most of the remaining residents in the southwest Alaska village of 350 stayed at the local school.

Also vulnerable was the Yukon River community of Stevens Village , 90 miles northwest of Fairbanks.

State responders arrived there May 9th and an evacuation of about 30 women and children was made as a precaution. They were flown to Fairbanks .

 

A massive ice jam in a canyon eight miles downriver caused waters to rise swiftly around the village. The river washed over the nearest road that afternoon, said Corey Bogel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Fisher said that as responders flew to the village, they spotted a 60-mile run of ice heading downriver toward the jam.

Meanwhile, cleanup continued in Eagle just west of the Canadian border after a devastating flood caused by ice jams from the Yukon River caused extensive damage. Flooding and ice essentially destroyed nearby Eagle Village , a traditional Han Kutchin Indian community.

Floodwaters also had covered low-lying areas in Fort Yukon , displacing more than 100 residents, but have now subsided.

There had been concerns that the community of Beaver, downstream of Fort Yukon , would also be flooded because of jammed ice and some residents were flown out on May 8th.

But the ice pushed on past the village and water levels receded, Bogel said.

“That’s certainly good news for Beaver,” he said.

 

 

 

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