Storm lashes Alaskan shore, bringing severe coastal flooding and prompting evacuations
The remnants of Typhoon Merbok have been battering Alaska’s western coast since late Friday, bringing flooding powerful enough to uproot buildings and forcing residents to seek shelter.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Saturday declared a disaster for impacted communities as heavy rains lashed the coast, filling roadways with water and debris.
By Saturday night, the governor was reporting impacts to roads, oil storage and possibly sea walls. Authorities were still assessing whether the storm affected water supplies and sewage systems in the state’s western towns, Dunleavy said in a Saturday night briefing.
About 450 residents in coastal communities have sought shelter in schools, according to Bryan Fisher, director of the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
There were no reports of injuries or fatalities related to the storm as of Saturday night, said Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe of the Alaska National Guard, adding that “there likely will be a military response” with aircraft ready to help with evacuations if necessary.
Water continues to surge early Sunday, with levels expected to peak above the high tide line of 3-5 feet at Deering, 4-6 feet at Kotzebue, and 5-7 feet at Shishmaref and Kivalina, according to the National Weather Service.