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Supplies, Volunteers Boost Pace of Repair Work in Flood-damaged Communities


The pace is about to pick up on the repair of homes in Galena and other villages along the Yukon River damaged by last year’s flooding. A barge of building supplies and equipment arrived last week, and housing has been built for more than 100 volunteers that’ll be fixing homes in Galena and five other communities on the Yukon.

Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Zidek says the agency and its state counterpart finally have resources in place to begin a summerlong project to repair flood-damaged homes – and rebuild others that are beyond repair.

“We’re scheduled to complete 35 repairs throughout Alaska, (and) 13 rebuilds,” Zidek said. “In Galena, we’re going to do 25 repairs and 11 rebuilds. So in all, there’ll be six communities that will see volunteer labor there helping them recover from last year’s floods.”

The other Yukon River communities up for repairs this summer are Alakanuk, Circle, Emmonak, Fort Yukon and Hughes.

Galena was perhaps the worst hit of all; about 90 percent of its homes and businesses were damaged by the floods, which peaked one year ago today.

Zidek says work will soon get under way in earnest now that a housing project for volunteers has just been completed in Galena. And just time, because he says the number of volunteers there will more than double over the next three weeks.

“We’ve expanded the responder camp there to 106 beds,” he said. “So volunteers can come into Galena and have a warm, dry place to rest their heads, and good food, while working out there in the communities.”

Credit Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
The repair work includes jacking up homes to elevate them above the level of last year's Yukon River floods.

Zidek says the volunteers mostly are members of faith-based relief organizations – as are those already in Galena, who are affiliated with Samaritan’s Purse and the United Methodist Church.

“We have some of our partners like Mennonite Disaster Services and Disciples in Christ, who are also going to be traveling up to Alaska,” he said.

Zidek says FEMA and the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have just added $3.7 million in funding to pay for the work, to go along with a $1.7 million grant awarded earlier this month. The local Native organization, the Louden Tribal Council, is coordinating the relief effort.