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Storms Flood Kotlik, But Other Communities See Little Damage

High storm surge floods Kotlik.
Credit Courtesy of Alaska National Weather Service Facebook

Weekend storms battered the coast of Western Alaska. While they damaged some villages, others fared much better.  

Kotlik is facing a familiar situation: flooding from coastal storms. Joseph Uisok says that three houses flooded this past weekend.

"But everybody survived, nobody got hurt," Uisok said. 

Kotlik sits on the Yukon River near the Bering Sea on the southern end of Norton Sound, and has experienced a lot of flooding in the past year. Unusual winter storms flooded six houses in February. The storm warnings started coming in on Aug. 2, and the National Weather Service said that coastal villages would see high storm surges.

Uisok says that Kotlik lost about 4 feet of bank over the weekend. He says that they are used to this kind of flooding by now, especially closer to autumn.

For other communities, the storm damage wasn’t as severe. Chefornak Tribal Council President Peter Panruk says that he didn’t see a lot of erosion, but he said that it was a close call for two houses that sit 10 feet from the riverbank.

"You know we’re gonna have more storms coming in, and that’s when it’s going to do more damage," Panruk said. 

Chefornak is seeing erosion get worse, and is already monitoring it just in case the village has to move.

Quinhagak is another coastal village that’s experiencing a lot of erosion. Its sewer lagoon sits near the ocean. Tribal Administrator Ferdinand Cleveland says that water from this most recent storm did not pass the high tide mark, and didn’t cause any additional erosion.