ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (AP) – A powerful storm sweeping north through the Bering Strait on Saturday caused widespread flooding in several western Alaska coastal communities, knocking out power and sending residents fleeing for higher ground.
The force of the water moved some homes off their foundations, and one house in Nome floated down a river until it got caught at a bridge.
The potent storm – what remains of Typhoon Merbok – has been influencing weather patterns as far away as California, where strong winds and a rare late-summer rainstorm were expected.
In Alaska, no injuries or deaths were immediately reported, said spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jeremy Zidek.
Officials had warned some places could see their worst flooding in 50 years and that the high waters could take up to 14 hours to recede.
Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a disaster declaration during the day.The nearly 1,609-kilometre storm front has damaged roads and potentially other infrastructure, Dunleavy said at a Saturday evening news conference. Officials will evaluate any effects on water and sewer systems, seawalls, fuel storage areas, airports, and ports.
Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives were already in Alaska before the storm, and Dunleavy said they will stay to help assess damage.
“Our goal is to get the assessments done as soon as possible,” he said. “We’re going to move as quickly as we can to provide relief, provide recovery, provide the essentials that people need.”