Sudden flooding in the village of Kotlik -- a coastal Yukon River Delta town of about 630 people south of Norton Sound -- caused broken sewage systems, severe ice jams, a school closure, and has displaced families and cut off the community's access to any running water. And the village had little time to begin recovery, as it already had to brace for another wave of nasty winter weather that was expected to bring the potential for more flooding.
Other communities in the region, from Scammon Bay to Unalakleet, also suffered damage as a result of severe weather that accompanied a Bering Sea storm system sweeping through the area late last week.
"The town was actually a part of the ocean," Kotlik Mayor Thomas Sinka said Monday. "I mean everything was underwater, and our rescue teams were trying to get to all of these people, but the flooding happened so fast we just couldn't."
He added that sea ice was pushed into the town and surrounding rivers, making it more challenging to perform search and rescue operations.
Sinka said the water from Pastol Bay came rushing into the Yup'ik village on Saturday. He said more than 100 people, families and their pets headed to the local school for shelter.
Although the worst seems to be over, Sinka said, it has left the town with immense damage.