Alaskan Villages Recovering From Massive Storm
Author: Yereth Rosen
Residents of remote Alaska towns and tiny Native villages were working on Friday to tally up damages from a near-record storm that lashed the state's west coast, officials said.
"Thirty-seven villages have reported some type of damage, whether that is wind damage or minor flooding or power outages. It's really kind of a mixed bag," said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The Inupiat village of Point Hope, with about 675 residents, on Friday became the last of the communities to get power restored, Zidek said. A local shelter that housed residents on Thursday night is now scheduled to close.
The storm, with a pressure system and wind and wave conditions that meteorologists likened to a Category 3 hurricane, had passed by Thursday.
It was followed by a more typical Bering Sea storm, hitting southwestern Alaska instead of northern Alaska, and prompting new winter-storm and coastal-flooding warnings from the National Weather Service.
The larger storm was considered particularly damaging because of its northern trajectory and the lack of sea ice in coastal areas that could have acted as a buffer against surging waves.
A sea surge as high as 10 feet was measured in Nome, the western town that bore much of the storm's brunt, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm produced no confirmed deaths or injuries, but one person remained missing on Friday.
Authorities in Teller, a village north of Nome, continued to search for Kyle Komok, a 26-year-old last seen driving an all terrain vehicle Wednesday afternoon.
Komok was riding his vehicle toward a beach spit as storm waves crashed onto it, the Alaska State Troopers said. So far, searchers have found no sign of Komok or his vehicle, the troopers said.
"His status is missing until we find him dead or alive," trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
Of the affected communities, none had requested a disaster declaration as of early Friday, but such designations are being contemplated by state officials, Zidek said.
State officials are expected to travel to the region next week to start the lengthy process of assessing property damage, he said. The winter conditions are likely to extend that process, he said.
"Sometimes things are covered with snow, so it takes a little longer in these conditions to get an accurate assessment," Zidek said.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Tim Gaynor)