State of play of the storm: all airports open, ports operational, three homes destroyed, 19 homes with significant damage

Governor Mike Dunleavy and a Disaster Response Team returned from a four-day survey of numerous towns and villages in western Alaska, where he deployed more than 120 personnel from the National Guard, Alaska State Defense Force, and Alaska Naval Militia in Alaska to assist with materials for immediate emergency temporary residential repairs and storm debris cleanup, including cleaning of public spaces and assistance to private residences. The 120 are in addition to specialists from Alaska State Departments.

So far it appears that three houses have been destroyed, 19 others have suffered major damage and three have suffered minor damage.

The Governor, Transportation Commissioner Ryan Anderson and Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Torrence Saxe met with local incident commanders to ensure the state meets all community needs following the storm that hit the weekend of September 17.

FEMA employees were already in the state before the storm hit, having flown north for disaster-related drills with the Emergency Management Division.

On September 14, the National Weather Service began warning the state of the monster storm. FEMA employees remained in Alaska and helped state officials notify communities that were in the storm’s path.

Dunleavy declared a state disaster on September 17, the day the storm made landfall, and requested a federal disaster declaration on September 21. President Joe Biden has yet to respond to the state’s request; his daily schedule centers him around meetings with the Democratic National Committee and a celebration of singer Elton John.

In a similar storm in 2011, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell declared a disaster on November 5 and submitted a request for a federal disaster declaration on November 12, around the same time. This disaster status was granted by President Barack Obama at the end of December of the same year.

With a state disaster declaration, however, the state can proceed with local infrastructure repairs and provide shelter, food, and water to people in affected areas. The state can tap into state disaster funds pre-funded by law, then hope the federal government comes with funds to help and restore spending. The State of Alaska has a close working relationship with FEMA Region 10, and the FEMA chief was scheduled to visit Western Alaska on Friday.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is working on reports of local contaminant spills and water and wastewater issues in Branches I and II, the southern and mid-west coast portions of Alaska. The DEC is assessing community water systems in the storm impact area and issuing boil water advisories where appropriate. The DEC deployed a representative to the Anchorage-based USCG Incident Command Post on Thursday to coordinate assessment and cleanup efforts.

The United States Coast Guard continues to investigate environmental impacts in the area of ​​the storm and has a search and rescue response ready. Impacts from the storm have not impacted communities on the West Coast that receive bulk fuel deliveries with shoreside “flexible hose” delivery available when an onshore fuel manifold is unusable.

The Alaska Geological and Geophysical Survey Division is in the storm impact area and collects high water marks to record and calibrate the historic impact of the storm. The National Weather Service uses these findings to adjust forecasts for affected communities due to damage to levees and sea barriers.

All airports in the region have been reopened by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which is working to repair state roads and facilities. Teams continue to assess roads in the affected area and have started drone surveys in several communities. The teams are also helping local jurisdictions with possible repairs.

Most power has been restored to Golovin and Hooper Bay, towns that were hard hit by the storm. The tanks that had rolled over at Newtok were empty. In Chevak, the Coast Guard reported about 1,000 gallons of fuel/oil containers strewn about about a mile of river shoreline. An oil burst was observed and DEC deployed to join the USCG.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers checked the port of Nome and found no problems. Engineers are evaluating the Nome Seawall and Shismaref Bank Protection projects. The Nome Harbor causeway bridge was deemed safe for passenger traffic, but damage was observed to the stone breakwaters and the entrance channel is banked on the west side.

The Kivalina revetment wall was assessed and suffered damage at the south end. The corps has 3 personnel in Nome en route to Shishmaref awaiting good weather and has hired a survey team to visit St. Paul’s port on Monday.