Governor stresses need to rebuild Western Alaska communities affected by storm before winter arrives

Governor stresses need to rebuild Western Alaska communities affected by storm before winter arrives
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 8:33 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy toured towns and villages in Western Alaska that were hit hardest by the historic fall storm last weekend and said the state is rushing to rebuild and resupply communities before the cold of winter hits.

The governor held a news conference Thursday to update Alaskans on the tour of communities damaged by the storm, which formed from remnants of former Typhoon Merbok. Dunleavy was joined by Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson and Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, Commissioner of the Alaska National Guard.

Dunleavy said as cleanup efforts continue, thousands of pounds of food and water are being flown in, with help from outside organizations.

It was also revealed that the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Deanne Criswell, will be arriving in Alaska to tour sites and assess the damage. Criswell will be traveling straight from Puerto Rico, where she was touring communities damaged by Hurricane Fiona.

The governor said that necessities are being taken care of, but stressed that what his administration is focusing on currently is rebuilding roads and bridges before the winter freeze sets in.

“We’re going to move as quickly as possible,” Dunleavy said. “We have people in constant contact with folks on the ground. Their needs are going to be met.

“It’s really about getting everything up and running and prepared for winter.”

The governor visited Bethel on Monday before making stops in Newtok, Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Nome, Golovin and Elim. Dunleavy said his team also did a flyover of Chevak. Dunleavy added that he plans to return by Oct. 1 as a check-up on the work being done.

The storm blew into the Bering Sea on Sept. 15 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok, which originally formed in the west Pacific Ocean. The storm carried hurricane-force winds and brought massive storm surges that blasted coastal communities with high surf. The severity of the storm moved buildings off their foundations, flooded entire towns with water and ripped siding off of houses.