Officials: Fort Yukon flooding threat mostly over

Sam Nathaniel climbs over a log following his neighbor Gary Bessette as they climb over blocks of Yukon River ice Monday, May 20, 2013, at Circle. An ice jam Sunday morning caused the river to rise rapidly flooding the village 160 miles northwest of Fairbanks. Bessette, behind Nathaniel, had spend the night with his canoe after evacuating his home as it flooded. (AP Photo/ Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Harrel)

FORT YUKON — The threat of flooding in Fort Yukon is mostly over, but residents of the town northeast of Fairbanks remain vigilant.


Fort Yukon flood coordinator Velma Carroll said she posted people in certain areas to monitor the flood waters after reports came in Thursday evening that water was flowing through the woods near town, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. That way, she said, if the situation worsens the 600-person community will know about it quickly.

The flooding was being caused by another upriver ice jam and was occurring on the side of town opposite from the Yukon River.

Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said Friday morning that the threat of flooding in Fort Yukon is mostly over. Fort Yukon officials could not immediately be reached Friday morning. Town offices were closed because of the flooding.

On Thursday, Carroll and National Weather Service hydrologist Ed Plumb went on the air at the KZPA AM radio station to deliver mostly good news.

“It appears the jam upriver is a nonissue at this point,” Plumb said. “And between Beaver and Fort Yukon, there’s a clear channel of water. There’s slim to no chance of a jam forming up there. ... The threat of flooding from above is over, and there’s nothing from below.”

Forecasters lifted the flood alert for Fort Yukon earlier in the day.

But Carroll noted: “We just can’t let our guard down. We have to be aware. Just because the National Weather Service lifted their flood watch doesn’t mean that the community does.”

For days, a massive ice jam 12 miles north of the community that had accumulated a lake of river water estimated to be 7 miles wide and 30 miles long was causing concern. It posed a risk of creating a flood surge if it had gone out all at once, but much of the water escaped through a 200-foot-wide crack in the jam.

Fort Yukon has been well-prepared for the chance of a flood with evacuation sites lined up and stocked with water, food and fuel. Many residents had packed up boxes and moved furniture off the floor in case water breached their doors.

The plan was put together beginning in 2009, a year of serious flooding all along the Yukon River.


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