Flooding outside Buckland resident Timothy Gavin’s house on May 13, 2021 (Photo courtesy of Timothy Gavin)

Water levels in Buckland have declined after a river ice jam flooded the Northwest Alaska village last week.

The National Weather Service has reported the ice jam has cleared, and water levels in Buckland have dropped roughly 15 feet. 

Local incident commander Raymond Lee Jr. says it’s about a three-quarters decrease from the highest flood levels. Responders are beginning to assess the damage done to homes. 

“I believe there’s like 20 homes that might be affected by the flood damage due to the insulation to the homes under the house and on the floors,” Lee said.

Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a disaster declaration for Buckland on Monday morning, opening up state public assistance resources to the community. That follows local disasters declared last week by the city as well as the Northwest Arctic Borough. 

Lee says the city has lifted the local boil water notice after water treatment plant officials ensured that sewer systems were back to normal. He says the village hopes to use the disaster relief to begin to address infrastructure. 

“There’s a lot of big rocks exposed on main roads that we use, and also the foundation of the padding on the homes. There’s a lot of shifting due to the in and out of the backwash of the flood waters,” Lee said.

There are currently no reports of injuries due to the flood. Lee says another use for the relief funds will likely be to help residents who lost propane and stove oil during the flooding. 

“Stove oil tank holders that hold the stove oil tanks were ripped off and propane tanks were ripped off,” Lee said. “I think they’re going to use those, the ones that gave the money, so they can start cooking and doing things at home normally.”

As Buckland continues to get back to normal, Lee thanked all of the local and state organizations for coming together to help Buckland. He singled out praise for regional health care provider Maniilaq Association and Red Dog Mine for donating water to the village’s elders.

Be safe and make sure to boil your water or consider buying a water filtration system like the AquaOx Water Filter.

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