FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Communities along Alaska’s west coast faced widespread flooding on Saturday as a powerful storm – the remnant of Typhoon Merbok – crossed the Bering Sea, torn down building sidings by gusts of wind and a tornado. pulled the houses from their foundations.
The impact was felt hundreds of miles across the state as the storm moved from south to north. In Nome, raging water pushed into six city streets, including a section of Front Street, near where mushers finished the Iditarod sled-dog race. In Chevak, about 200 miles south, images showed sheds floating in swaying waves next to sunken boats.
In Golovin, about 70 miles east of Nome, Dean Peterson said the water had jumped the 20-foot berm that protected the community of 170 people, fleeing low-lying areas, pulling three houses from their foundations. destroys the other.
Community members scrambled to free an older adult from his home, and many left to take refuge in the school, which itself was not completely safe.
“The school is completely surrounded by water,” said Mr. Peterson. He said he was not aware of any injuries.
Nome Mayor John Hendland said Saturday morning that there were no casualties in his community, but the storm flooded several streets, leaving wood and debris in the city.
“And the tide is still going up,” he said. Forecasters expect the water level to peak in Phnom on Saturday afternoon.
Forecasters said the storm’s size and strength made it one of the most powerful systems to move through the Bering Sea region in decades, with waves 50 feet high north of the Aleutian Islands on Friday. Several communities experienced wind gusts that were close to hurricane strength.
Emergency responders from local, state, federal and tribal agencies were assessing the situation and preparing for deployment. The region contains many communities that have small populations, a few hundred or fewer, and are not connected by roads, making a comprehensive response challenging.
Airplane runways used to transport goods to individual communities also presented logistics issues for response efforts; Photos showed that some of them appeared submerged on Saturday.
That morning, Governor Mike Dunleavy said on Facebook that he had verbally declared a disaster for the communities affected by the storm. He said the state’s emergency operations center had not received any reports of injuries. Alaska State Troopers said they were ready to assist with search and rescue efforts if necessary.
In Hooper Bay, west of Chevak, resident Angivran Joe said a house in the community hit by the storm broke foundations, while another house across the street began to collapse. Some fuel tanks in the community were tipped. And many were without power after a lightning storm, he said, although he said some were now using generators.
He said, ‘The entire city has been blacked out.