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THIRTY MILE Long Ice Jam Causes Devastating Floods In Alaskan Town As Hundreds Are Forced To Flee

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Devastation: Homes in Galena, Alaska were destroyed after a 30-mile ice jam on the Yukon River sent water flowing onto the land

An Alaskan town was flooded after a 30-mile ice jam on the Yukon River sent water flowing onto the land.

The colossal river ice jam was starting to churn Wednesday as water finally chewed ice chunks away from the stubborn, frozen mass after most of the residents were forced to flee from the rising water.

An aerial survey Wednesday afternoon revealed chunks of ice have broken off at the front of the 30-mile ice jam on the Yukon River, National Weather Service hydrologist Ed Plumb said. That means the jam will move soon and waters will begin to recede in the waterlogged town of Galena, 20 miles upriver.

 
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The ice jam had begun churning Wednesday as water finally chewed ice chunks away from the river

The flooding lifted homes off foundations and has threatened to break a dike protecting the airport, virtually the only dry spot left in the community of 500 where floodwaters washed out roads and submerged homes. There are no reports of injuries.

The National Guard flew 32 more people and 19 dogs to Fairbanks Tuesday night. Other residents were evacuated earlier.

Kevin Ray, a state worker who moved to Galena four months ago, was among the human evacuees who flew in on a Guard C-130 transport plane to Fairbanks, 270 miles east of Galena. Ray said the flight was noisy, with the constant barking of frightened dogs.

In Galena, Ray's office is gone. His apartment and all his possessions are under water.

'So basically, I'm kind of a homeless guy,' Ray, 65, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday from an American Red Cross shelter set up at a local church. 'I never thought I'd be a victim. But hey, life is life.'

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The community of 500 had to evacuate after the floods but there have been no reports of injuries

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The flooding lifted homes off foundations and has threatened to break a dike protecting the airport, virtually the only dry spot left

Now that the water is trying to push through the jam, conditions could change quickly. When the jam breaks, the downriver community of Koyukuk will be at risk of flooding.

In an earlier flight Wednesday, Plumb said, the ice was locked firmly in place, despite 80 degree temperatures. The hot weather is expected to last a couple days before cooling slightly.

In Galena, water went over low areas of the dike Tuesday, then the water level fell. With the threat of water topping the dike again, the state took the step of bringing in military aircraft to aid in the evacuations of those who wanted to leave. State emergency spokesman Jeremy Zidek said 76 residents chose to stay in a former Air Force barracks.

The water was rising again Wednesday morning close to the edge of the dike, which protects the runway and some buildings including former barracks, then levels fluctuated without rising more, Plumb said. Outside the dike, everything has been hit by flooding, according to Plumb, who has worked for the weather service for 13 years.

'I've never seen anything like this before,' he said. 'And I don't think these people here (have) either. The ice jam is amazing.'

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The water was rising again Wednesday morning close to the edge of the dike, which protects the runway and some buildings including former barracks, then levels fluctuated without rising more

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'I've never seen anything like this before,' one official said. 'And I don't think these people here (have) either. The ice jam is amazing.'

The damage has left the town without power, fresh water and cell phone reception. When the ice jam knocked out the bridge leading to the airport, evacuees had to be taken there by boat or helicopter, according to Ray, who said the flooding began with a trickle Sunday. In a place where spring flooding is nothing new, many homes are built on stilts, but the fast rising water reached them, too.

The disaster has left people feeling traumatized and vulnerable, Ray said.

'We didn't have any idea how vast the flood was going to be,' he said.

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The damage has left the town without power, fresh water and cell phone reception. When the ice jam knocked out the bridge leading to the airport, evacuees had to be taken there by boat or helicopter

Zidek said the damage is being assessed and a disaster policy cabinet will forward recommendations to Gov. Sean Parnell, who visited the area Tuesday. 

Recommendations are likely to include issuing a disaster declaration.




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Comment by michelle mitchell on June 7, 2013 at 11:01am
Nature in its wrath.
Comment by carolyn johnson on June 1, 2013 at 8:03am

if it aint one thang its another

Comment by Dread on May 31, 2013 at 5:09pm
I feel ,very sorry for this mishap
Comment by Bombahdrop on May 30, 2013 at 6:36pm
@ NycDboy exactly, and that's why I say,they would have stood a better chance on Gilligan's Island lol
Comment by NycDboy on May 30, 2013 at 6:23pm
Is either they are stupid or just more stupid. Why would choose that area for a way of living?!? Smdh
Comment by Bombahdrop on May 30, 2013 at 6:14pm
They may as well lived on Gilligan's Island smh
Comment by Bombahdrop on May 30, 2013 at 2:07pm
Ummm excuse me but look where they decided to set up shop. Just looking at the surrounding area doesn't look safe to live . It's no wonder its only five hundred people live around there, ain't nobody in they right mind will live there where there is nothing but SwampS, Marsh and lots of deserted area.

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