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Disaster declared after an Alaskan village was inundated by more than five feet of floodwater

Residents of an Alaskan village were forced to evacuate after it was inundated last week by more than five feet of floodwater caused by an ice jam.

On Monday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a disaster in the city of Buckland, a news release from his office said.

“I have directed all state agencies to provide assistance in the most expeditious manner possible,” Dunleavy said in the release. “The flooding caused significant damage to homes, roads and utility infrastructure so a declaration is warranted to get the community back on its feet as soon as possible.”

The disaster declaration has activated Alaska’s Individual and Public Assistance programs from disaster recovery, the release said.

Buckland had a population of around 500 people in 2018, according to the Northwest Arctic Borough. It is about 160 miles northeast of Nome and 475 miles northwest of Anchorage.

According to the release, flooding began on May 12 after an ice jam on the Buckland River.

Water levels have since dropped and responders are assessing damage in the area, the release said.

A boil water notice is in place and some houses remain without heat because of stove oil barrels displaced in the flooding.

“We’re sad to see this happen to the people of Buckland, but the city, tribe, and borough’s response to this event has been incredible,” Bryan Fisher, Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) said in the release.

“This community had a Small Community Emergency Response Plan and enacted it immediately,” he added. “Coordination between Buckland, the Northwest Arctic Borough, and the state has been seamless. The leadership and residents of Buckland should be commended for their preparedness, quick actions, and resilience.”

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