Begich Supports Federal Disaster Declaration for Interior Alaska

Yukon, Kuskokwim, Kobuk, and Susitna River drainages impacted

In an effort to assist residents of several Interior Alaska villages impacted by severe spring flooding, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has sent a letter asking President Obama to support a Federal Disaster Declaration for the region.

“These isolated areas of Alaska make emergency response challenging and I want to make sure that we have all of the resources possible at our disposal,” Sen. Begich writes. “Your immediate attention and declaration will help insure that we are doing everything humanly possible to protect life and property in Alaska.”

The request for supporting a federal disaster declaration comes after Governor Sarah Palin today issued a state disaster declaration. State officials say they plan to pursue a federal disaster declaration in the coming days.

The National Weather Service has called flooding in the Yukon River community of Eagle the worst on record, with more than half of the residents displaced and the entire water supply compromised. After a long, cold winter, forecasters are predicting more ice jams as rivers start to thaw and the situation is expected to get worse. Severe flooding is expected in the community of Circle, about 140 miles downriver from Eagle. The community of Eagle Village has already been destroyed.

“Breakup in Alaska almost always causes some flooding and other problems, but this year we have abnormally thick ice, we’re hearing and reading about house-size chunks of ice slamming into buildings, and residents in these areas are living through extremely dangerous conditions, Sen. Begich said. “I am hopeful, between the state and federal governments, we can get some assistance to these Alaskans living through this nightmare.”