As spring floodwaters recede in some Alaska communities and threaten others, the state said Friday that it will open disaster assistance programs next week for residents experiencing flood damage in Southwest and Interior Alaska.
State officials say people eligible for assistance include residents of the Alaska Gateway Regional Attendance Area near Eagle as well as the Yukon Flats, Kuspuk and Copper River areas. Additional communities may also be eligible depending on future damage, officials say.
Floodwaters rose to historic levels this year in Crooked Creek, on the Kuskokwim River, and Circle, on the Yukon River. Several homes were swept into the river and downstream in Circle. In both communities, homes were knocked from their foundations and large ice slabs slammed into buildings. Water in Crooked Creek reached levels of 4 to 5 feet higher than catastrophic flooding that occurred during 2011, state disaster officials say.
Eagle, on the Yukon, and Red Devil, on the Kuskokwim, also experienced damage from floodwaters. Two homes flooded in Eagle and the runway partly flooded in Red Devil, according to state reports. Villages downstream have experienced varying levels of flooding and damage as ice continued to jam this week. A number of flood watches, warnings and advisories remained in place Friday as officials monitored the rapidly changing conditions along the rivers.
We are saddened to see the damages from ice jam flooding in Buckland, and our thoughts go out to the community during this significant flooding event. Here are some photos taken by our River Watch team on Thursday. The threat of further flooding continues for Buckland. pic.twitter.com/HOacQviDkr— NWS Fairbanks (@NWSFairbanks) May 19, 2023
A long ice jam remains in place on the middle Yukon from near Big Eddy to between the Kokrine Hills Bible Camp and the Boneyard. This photo is from our riverwatch crew flying over it yesterday, looking downriver just up from the Nowitna confluence pic.twitter.com/q9q17V87MY— NWS APRFC (@NWSAPRFC) May 19, 2023
Snowmelt flooding also caused damage in Glennallen, prompting a boil-water order and covering the Glenn Highway at times.
The above-average snowpack this year, combined with low temperatures throughout much of spring, led to a rapid thaw within the last few weeks that contributed to flooding.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a disaster declaration for select communities last weekend, which he said will open up funding to aid in recovery efforts. People who have damaged homes, transportation or personal property are eligible to apply for the state’s Individual Assistance Program starting Wednesday. The program provides up to $20,500 for personal property damage and the same amount for housing repair. It can also provide help with housing for people who have been displaced by the flooding.
Applications will be available online, by phone and in person at select locations. The deadline to apply is July 23.
A disaster declaration was issued last spring for five Alaska communities damaged by ice jam or snowmelt flooding.