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State hopes to begin flying Galena flood evacuees home next week

Kyle Hopkins
Photo courtesy National Weather Service Yukon River ice rests near a cabin in Circle during flooding on May 21, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Pat Sanders
Yukon RIver ice at Eagle, Alaska on May 19, 2013.
Unknown
The town of Galena, Alaska flooded as the Yukon River overflowed during the breakup of winter ice. Thirty-two residents and nineteen dogs were transported on an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 “Hercules” aircraft from Galena to Fairbanks May 28 to wait for the water levels to subside. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Jon Korta rips up his hardwood floor Monday, June 3, 2013, after the Yukon River flooded Galena, Alaska last week. The flood caused by ice clogging the Yukon River submerged some homes, washed out the road to the community's landfill and knocked out power. On Monday, emergency responders were developing a strategy to collect spoiled meat and fly it by helicopter to the dump, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. (AP Photo/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
Sam Harrel
Aerial view of Yukon RIver flooding at Fort Yukon, Alaska on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Unknown
Paul Apfelbeck Galena resident Paul Apfelbeck and other residents flew to Fairbanks via an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Paul Apfelbeck
Yukon River ice near Stevens Village on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
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Ice from the Yukon River melts in the yard of Paul Nathaniel on Monday morning, May 20, 2013, at Circle. An ice jam Sunday morning caused the river to rise rapidly flooding the village 160 miles northwest of Fairbanks. According to Nathaniel's brother, Sam Nathaniel, the cabin was located to the left of the van before the ice pushed it off it's foundation.
Sam Harrel
Yukon RIver ice at Eagle, Alaska on May 18, 2013.
Unknown
Alaska Air National Guardsmen Staff Sgt. Colton Nelson (left), a loadmaster with the 144th Airlift Squadron, and Master Sgt. Brandon Stuemke, a pararescueman with the 212th Rescue Squadron, escort residents of Galena, Alaska to an awaiting C-130 “Hercules” to be transported to Fairbanks, May 28. Thirty-two residents and nineteen dogs were transported on an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 “Hercules” aircraft from Galena to Fairbanks to wait for the water levels to subside. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public AffairsThe Alaska National Guard sent multiple aircraft and rescue personnel to the rural Alaska village to assist with rescue efforts. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Iditarod musher Jon Korta's dog yard remains full of water Monday, June 3, 2013, after the Yukon River flooded Galena, Alaska last week. With water as high as his window sills, Korta spent two days in his 24-foot boat tied to his house along with his wife, son and 12 sled dogs. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
SAM HARREL
Aerial view of Yukon RIver near Fort Yukon, Alaska on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Unknown
David Lee Galena is seeing major flooding caused by ice damming on the Yukon River. David Lee took these photos May 27, 2013 between 8AM and 9AM.
David Lee
A structure damaged by Yukon River ice during the flooding in Circle on May 21, 2013.
Unknown
ANDREW NEASON / Alaska State Troopers Water rose rapidly five to eight feet Sunday morning May 19, 2013 in Circle, Alaska, reaching or flooding the majority of structures in town.
ANDREW NEASON
Yukon River ice at Eagle, Alaska on May 18, 2013.
Unknown
Pararescuemen with the 212th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard help residents of Galena, Alaska into a C-130 “Hercules” during an evacuation of the town, May 28. Galena flooded as the Yukon River overflowed during the breakup of winter ice. Residents of the town were transported to Fairbanks to wait for the water levels to subside. The Alaska National Guard sent multiple aircraft and rescue personnel to the rural Alaska village to assist with rescue efforts. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton
John Korta's car dries out on Monday, June 3, 2013 in Galena, Alaska. The car had been under water after the area was flooded. The flood caused by ice clogging the Yukon River submerged some homes, washed out the road to the community's landfill and knocked out power. On Monday, emergency responders were developing a strategy to collect spoiled meat and fly it by helicopter to the dump, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
SAM HARREL
Satellite image of the Yukon River on May 19, 2013.
Unknown
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
Sam Nathaniel climbs over a log following his neighbor Gary Bessette as they climb over blocks of Yukon River ice Monday, May 20, 2013, at Circle. An ice jam Sunday morning caused the river to rise rapidly flooding the village 160 miles northwest of Fairbanks. Bessette, behind Nathaniel, had spend the night with his canoe after evacuating his home as it flooded.
Sam Harrel
ANDREW NEASON / Alaska State Troopers Water rose rapidly five to eight feet Sunday morning May 19, 2013 in Circle, Alaska, reaching or flooding the majority of structures in town.
ANDREW NEASON
Jon Korta rips up his hardwood floor Monday, June 3, 2013, after the Yukon River flooded Galena, Alaska last week. The flood caused by ice clogging the Yukon River submerged some homes, washed out the road to the community's landfill and knocked out power. On Monday, emergency responders were developing a strategy to collect spoiled meat and fly it by helicopter to the dump, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. (AP Photo/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
Sam Harrel
Paul Apfelbeck Galena resident Paul Apfelbeck and other residents flew to Fairbanks via an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Paul Apfelbeck
This June 2, 2013 photo shows Louden Loop in Galena, Alaska, after the area was flooded. The flood caused by ice clogging the Yukon River submerged some homes, washed out the road to the community's landfill and knocked out power. On Monday, emergency responders were developing a strategy to collect spoiled meat and fly it by helicopter to the dump, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. (AP Photo/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
SAM HARREL
Photo courtesy National Weather Service Yukon River ice rests near a cabin in Circle during flooding on May 21, 2013.
Unknown
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
A dozer pushes Yukon River ice out of the way as crews look for Circle's fresh water well Monday, May 20, 2013. The well needs to be tested after an ice jam Sunday morning caused the river to rise rapidly flooding the village 160 miles northwest of Fairbanks.
Sam Harrel
ANDREW NEASON / Alaska State Troopers Water rose rapidly five to eight feet Sunday morning May 19, 2013 in Circle, Alaska, reaching or flooding the majority of structures in town.
ANDREW NEASON
Iditarod musher Jon Korta's dog yard remains full of water Monday, June 3, 2013, after the Yukon River flooded Galena, Alaska last week. With water as high as his window sills, Korta spent two days in his 24-foot boat tied to his house along with his wife, son and 12 sled dogs. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
SAM HARREL
David Lee Galena is seeing major flooding caused by ice damming on the Yukon River. David Lee took these photos May 27, 2013 between 8AM and 9AM.
David Lee
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013. The airport is at top of photograph.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Ed Christensen
ANDREW NEASON / Alaska State Troopers Water rose rapidly five to eight feet Sunday morning May 19, 2013 in Circle, Alaska, reaching or flooding the majority of structures in town.
ANDREW NEASON
John Korta's car dries out on Monday, June 3, 2013 in Galena, Alaska. The car had been under water after the area was flooded. The flood caused by ice clogging the Yukon River submerged some homes, washed out the road to the community's landfill and knocked out power. On Monday, emergency responders were developing a strategy to collect spoiled meat and fly it by helicopter to the dump, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
SAM HARREL
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Ed Christensen
Photo by Scott Lindsey, National Weather Service Aerial photo of Yukon River flooding at Circle on Sunday morning, May 19, 2013.
Scott Lindsey
This June 2, 2013 photo shows Louden Loop in Galena, Alaska, after the area was flooded. The flood caused by ice clogging the Yukon River submerged some homes, washed out the road to the community's landfill and knocked out power. On Monday, emergency responders were developing a strategy to collect spoiled meat and fly it by helicopter to the dump, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. (AP Photo/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)
SAM HARREL
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013. The airport is at top of photograph.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Ed Christensen
Photo by Scott Lindsey, National Weather Service Aerial photo of Yukon River flooding at Circle on Sunday morning, May 19, 2013.
Scott Lindsey
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013. The airport is at top of photograph.
Unknown
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Ed Christensen
Yukon River at Eagle, Alaska on May 16, 2013.
John Borg
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service A Galena resident and his dogs were trapped in the boat for over two days. May 29, 2013. Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam at the end of May 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Ed Christensen
Yukon River flooding at Eagle City, Alaska on May 17, 2013.
Unknown
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam at the end of May 2013.
Ed Plumb
Aerial view of the Yukon River flooding at Fort Yukon on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Flood waters line the airport at left of photograph.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses in Eagle have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Photo by Ed Christensen
Yukon River flooding at Eagle, Alaska on May 17, 2013.
Unknown
Photo courtesy Ed Plumb (NWS) Yukon River flooding at Galena on May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013. The airport is at top of photograph.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Aerial view of the Yukon River flooding at Fort Yukon on Monday, May 20, 2013. Flood waters line the airport at top of photograph.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses in Eagle have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Photo by Ed Christensen
Yukon River ice at mouth of the Fortymile River on May 18, 2013.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service A Galena resident and his dogs were trapped in the boat for over two days. May 29, 2013. Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam at the end of May 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam at the end of May 2013.
Ed Plumb
Aerial view of Yukon RIver flooding at Fort Yukon, Alaska on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses in Eagle have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Photo by Ed Christensen
Yukon RIver ice damage at Eagle, Alaska on May 18, 2013.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam at the end of May 2013.
Ed Plumb
Yukon River ice and flood waters surround the community of Galena on Monday, May 27, 2013.
Unknown
The town of Galena, Alaska flooded as the Yukon River overflowed during the breakup of winter ice. Thirty-two residents and nineteen dogs were transported on an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 “Hercules” aircraft from Galena to Fairbanks May 28 to wait for the water levels to subside. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public AffairsPhoto by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Aerial view of Yukon RIver flooding at Fort Yukon, Alaska on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Ed Christensen
Yukon River flooding at Eagle, Alaska on May 18, 2013.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam May 28, 2013.
Ed Plumb
Aerial view of the Yukon River flooding at Fort Yukon on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Flood waters line the airport at left of photograph.
Unknown
The town of Galena, Alaska flooded as the Yukon River overflowed during the breakup of winter ice. Thirty-two residents and nineteen dogs were transported on an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 “Hercules” aircraft from Galena to Fairbanks May 28 to wait for the water levels to subside. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Aerial view of Yukon RIver near Fort Yukon, Alaska on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Ed Christensen
Yukon RIver near Eagle, Alaska on May 18, 2013.
Unknown
Ed Plumb / National Weather Service Galena was inundated by Yukon River flood waters, caused by an ice jam at the end of May 2013.
Ed Plumb
Aerial view of the Yukon River flooding at Fort Yukon on Monday, May 20, 2013. Flood waters line the airport at top of photograph.
Unknown
Alaska Air National Guardsmen Staff Sgt. Colton Nelson (left), a loadmaster with the 144th Airlift Squadron, and Master Sgt. Brandon Stuemke, a pararescueman with the 212th Rescue Squadron, escort residents of Galena, Alaska to an awaiting C-130 “Hercules” to be transported to Fairbanks, May 28. Thirty-two residents and nineteen dogs were transported on an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 “Hercules” aircraft from Galena to Fairbanks to wait for the water levels to subside. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public AffairsThe Alaska National Guard sent multiple aircraft and rescue personnel to the rural Alaska village to assist with rescue efforts. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Satellite image of the Yukon River on May 19, 2013.
Unknown
The Yukon River began breaking up early Friday morning, May 17, 2013. Several houses have been damaged or destroyed by moving ice.
Pat Sanders
Yukon River flooding at Eagle, Alaska on May 17, 2013.
Unknown
The town of Galena, Alaska flooded as the Yukon River overflowed during the breakup of winter ice. Thirty-two residents and nineteen dogs were transported on an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 “Hercules” aircraft from Galena to Fairbanks May 28 to wait for the water levels to subside. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public AffairsPhoto by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Aerial view of Yukon RIver flooding at Fort Yukon, Alaska on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Unknown
Pararescuemen with the 212th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard help residents of Galena, Alaska into a C-130 “Hercules” during an evacuation of the town, May 28. Galena flooded as the Yukon River overflowed during the breakup of winter ice. Residents of the town were transported to Fairbanks to wait for the water levels to subside. The Alaska National Guard sent multiple aircraft and rescue personnel to the rural Alaska village to assist with rescue efforts. Photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs
Sgt. Edward Eagerton

Madelaina Pilot will turn 2 years old Friday more than 500 miles from home.

Her mother, Kimberly, had planned to celebrate the toddler's birthday with neighbors and friends from church at the family's house in Galena.

"Now I think, 'When am I ever going to go to church with these people again?' " she said. "When is our community going to be a community again?"

The Pilots are among about 300 people who fled the Yukon River town when the worst flood in memory swallowed Galena last week. Kimberly and Madelaina escaped to Anchorage with an overnight bag stuffed with DVDs and books -- "Curious George," "The Bible for Girls" -- and bought clothes at Value Village.

The pair joined more than 20 fellow flood refugees Thursday at Red Cross offices in downtown Anchorage for an update on the evacuation and repairs in the village.

State officials told the group that evacuees, some of whom have lost their homes and nearly all their belongings, can start applying for tens of thousands of dollars in state disaster relief aid on Monday.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management sent workers to the village Thursday to began cataloging the property damage, a spokesman said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is doing the same, which could unlock additional federal money.

An estimated 180 homes have been damaged in the flooding, said Michael O'Hare, deputy director for the state's Emergency Management Division. Some will require light repairs, he said. Some are destroyed.

The number of inhabitable homes won't be known until the damage assessment is complete, the division says.

The state plans to begin flying evacuees home as early as next week under a plan now being developed with village leaders. It may be weeks or months before all families have returned, however, with the Galena mayor and tribal chief warning that the community is not yet safe for children.

"Galena is a hazardous place at this time due to diesel, sewage and ice damage. ... If you are from a surrounding village, there is no infrastructure to support your visit," Chief Fred Huntington and Mayor Russell Sweetsir said in a statement distributed by the Tanana Chiefs Council.

"Please ask folks to be patient and not come home too fast," they wrote.

Population estimates for Galena range from 400 to 500, making the widespread flooding a large-scale disaster for the Division of Emergency Management, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard.

A division spokesman estimated 280 to 300 people evacuated after major flooding began May 27. Many are in Fairbanks, staying at makeshift church shelters arranged by the Red Cross or at a hotel owned by the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Galena Schools Superintendent Chris Reitan estimated Thursday that only about 30 people had returned to the village so far, including essential employees requested by the city and the school district.

Residents whose homes were damaged in the flooding may be eligible for individual family grants of up to $15,950 as well as temporary housing assistance.

The housing assistance can be used to pay for repairs of owner-occupied homes and for rent, including up to 18 months of rent for displaced homeowners, said Tony Luiken, a division spokesman.

The pace at which people return to the village will be determined by the community, Katkus said: "We're not going to rush anybody back, we're not going to prohibit anybody (from going back)."

Kimberly Pilot's husband works for a fuel distributor in the village and has already gone home, she said. The only thing preventing the family's house from floating from its foundation was the thread of power lines and plumbing, he told her.

Pilot said she doesn't expect the village to be safe for her daughter or 9-year-old son for months. She'll likely have to find temporary housing in Anchorage or elsewhere, she said.

"I don't have any illusion about how damaged Galena is," she said. "Its power lines are down. Houses are off their foundations. We had four cords of wood that flooded away."

Pilot rode in a skiff to the airport the night the flooding began. She had no life jacket as the boat dodged debris.

"I knew that any minor slip-up could result in loss of life," she said. As she talked, daughter Madelaina charged across the floor, then grew fussy, ready for a nap. Pilot lifted the girl to her lap.

"If I went in the water, I wasn't coming back," she said. "The Yukon river doesn't give you a second chance."

 

 


By KYLE HOPKINS
khopkins@adn.com