Parnell declares disaster for flooded interior communities

National Weather Service photo.

Gov.  Sean Parnell Friday issued a state disaster declaration for Galena and other communities affected by spring flooding.

It will activate at least $1 million in state disaster recovery funds.

The hardest hit is Galena, where much of the community of nearly 500 was submerged by water earlier this week.  Many residents were evacuated after a 30-mile ice jam on the Yukon River caused the flooding.

Ice on the Kuskokwim River near Galena. May 28, 3013 photo by John Madden. Courtesy Alaska National Guard.

The jam broke Wednesday evening and the floodwaters have since receded, leaving behind chunks of ice, mud and a huge cleanup.

State emergency management spokesman Sam Hutchinson says responders are now switching to recovery mode.

About 130 people remain in the town at the Galena Interior Learning Academy, which is on the former Air Force station, and in the New Town/Crow Creek area.

According to the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), emergency response priorities are restoring essential services, including power, water, and sewer to the Air Force Station and Galena airport.  Food, water, sanitation items, and other essential supplies that have been flown into the airport are being relocated by helicopter to residents in the New Town/Crow Creek areas, which are currently inaccessible due to flood water, ice debris, road and bridge washouts.

Meanwhile, responders met today with Galena residents who evacuated earlier this week to Fairbanks, about 270 miles to the east. They represent the state emergency management division, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and other state agencies as well as the American Red Cross, federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Tanana Chief Conference .

The Tanana Chiefs Conference is coordinating local resources for residents.