Archive for the ‘Eagle’ Category

Spill response official quits over Yukon flooding *Update*

August 1, 2009
oilycatSam Harrel / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Public Health Nurse Andrea Dubenezic, left, helps Stacey Pare, of Eagle, clean her cat Moo Wow on Thursday night. The animal was found among the debris of Pare’s home which was destroyed by the flooding Yukon River. The two were cleaning heating oil and other contaminates from the cat.

Aug 1, 2009

This picture  and a story from NewsMiner.com, speak volumes.

Department of Environmental Conservation official quits, citing ‘miserable’ spill response to Yukon flooding

FAIRBANKS — The state’s leader for spill response has quit his job because of shortcomings and safety concerns he encountered during Yukon River spring flooding.

Ed Meggert said that while most of the Department of Environmental Conservation divisions handled matters well, his unit — the Division of Spill Prevention and Response — failed internally.

Meggert was in Eagle and other flooded Yukon villages within days of the spring ice flood that toppled everything in its path including diesel tanks. His team?

Assembling an incident command team as per regulation, Meggert found only one employee willing to help. He was forced to send a new employee with a week of initial training to go out into the field alone. No one was available to help with logistics, supplies, environmental issues or contracting.

And it wasn’t just the lack of support that led to his resignation. The concern for the safety of his team also played a role.

“I sent them out individually to dangerous situations, for which I’m personally liable, and then I had them working for no money,” he said. “I did it because it had to be done. People were out of their homes. But I won’t do it again. I can’t afford to take those chances, nor will I do it to the people I work with.”

That’s probably not the only thing he can’t afford – apparently the DEC is not great when it comes to paying its bills either.

At one point, DEC failed to pay a Fairbanks contractor its full bill, Meggert said. He covered the $6,000 gap out of his own pocket, an expenditure which might not be reimbursed by the state.

oilspills

We hope DEC fills the vacancy quickly because there are over 2,000 reports of oil and hazardous substance release each year in Alaska.

During Fiscal Year 2008 (July 1, 2007-June 30, 2008), 2,013 oil and hazardous substance releases were reported to the Department.

Then again, that number is down…

The total number of spills (2,013) as well as the total volume (388,842 gal) released in FY 2008 was lower than the average for the 13-year period of record.*

The North Slope subarea had the greatest number of spills (545) during FY 2008 compared to the other subareas. However, the total volume (46,755 gal)was less than 25% of the 13-year average for the subarea (200,933 gal).

… maybe they don’t need to fill this position.

Update – August 4

There’s more about the situation at the Department of Environmental Conservation at Juneau Empire.com this morning:

My Turn: DEC developments show Palin did not walk her talk

In May 2007, Palin proudly launched an oil and gas infrastructure review slated to cost $5 million and take two to three years to complete. The Alaska Risk Assessment project was to be “a thorough, independent appraisal” that would “identify facilities and systems that pose the greatest risk of failure, along with measures to reduce risks.”

Two years later, the ARA project is in shambles. According to DEC project manager Ira Rosen, the project is temporarily at “full stop,” primarily because the state has not been able to secure industry cooperation in providing the necessary information. After spending more than $1.3 million, DEC pulled the ARA contractors off the job when the project plan was resoundingly denounced during the public comment period that ended June 2.

Eagle: Rebuilding Master Plan Coming Together…

July 31, 2009

eagle house

It’s working!

Jul 31, 2009

Good news from Eagle! Residents. working side-by-side with volunteers from around the country, are well on their way toward meeting the goal of building thirteen log homes in Eagle by September 12 to replace homes that were washed away in the ice flood last spring.

As we pause to provide an update we bid farewell to eleven Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteer builders and welcome 14 fresh recruits. Lessons learned by the first crew will be passed on by three MDS volunteers that will be staying on, and by residents of Eagle who have been working side-by-side with the MDS volunteers.

In two weeks time the exterior walls are nearing completion on three homes, and roof trusses are beginning to take shape on one. The start of a fourth home and delivery of the logs for two additional homes coincided with the arrival of the new crew.  We are well on our way towards meeting the goal of building thirteen log homes in Eagle by September 12.

Other groups pitching in have been Samaritan’s Purse, LightShine Ministies and the Boy Scouts.

The Bureau of Land Management waived fees at beautiful Ft. Egbert campground and individuals are helping out while camping out.

Christina Young, a pilot spending her fourth summer flying throughout Alaska,  dropped in to help and a canoeist, paddling the Yukon River, stopped and volunteered for couple of days – just a couple of the many individuals donating their time and energy to the rebuilding frenzy.

It seems like the gravel and log home kits are making it to Eagle in time – an amazing example of bureaucracy and community working together.

But these are not Lincoln log homes that fit together perfectly. Those assembling the kits still need hardware and tools.

Eagle’s website has a list of needed items so I asked Eagle’s Volunteer Coordinator, Rob Paire, what the best address to send flat rate boxes of smaller items would be.

We are really working on two fronts, the first front is demolition of the old houses, the second is construction of new houses. Both fronts are going well at the moment.

Also I have not had time to update the needs list for quite some time, and I have received many donations so sorry. The most helpful thing for us to deal with is cash donations.

Look at the list. It seems like someone at the state or federal level should have realized you can’t rebuild a town without nails, ladders, saw horses and levels and had all these items in place when the kit homes arrived.

While the former governor was conducting a farewell tour and picnic series, private citizens were sending battery operated drills and nails to Eagle.

We can only hope that the next administration is  better equipped to address the challenges that face rural Alaskans.

* * *

The Warm Hearts Fund, set up by Big Ray’s in Fairbanks, is collecting monetary donations to help Eagle residents replace winter survival gear that was lost in the flood. This is a convenient way to make sure our neighbors are snug both inside and outside their new homes next winter.

Yukonbushgrma: Eagle Gets Gravel, Salmon

July 14, 2009

eagle

Jul 14, 2009

Being in Miami, I miss most of the late night activity on the Alaska blogs so it’s nice to wake up to a note like this in my inbox!

Hey Jane!

I thought I should write you first – because I’m a bit bewildered about how this thing all came about ….

A few days ago, I heard that our Disaster Center here in Eagle was going to receive over 400 pounds of king salmon – from Emmonak!  The Center got a phone call from Sen. Albert Kookesh’s office (he is the state senator for Eagle) asking if they wanted the salmon (duh – of course!), and it went from there.  The air freight and truck transport were all paid to get it to Eagle.  I’m assuming the Senator’s office handled the details.

So – 400+ pounds of beautiful salmon arrived in Eagle, and it was all distributed or used by the disaster kitchen.  (They baked 5 of them that night in the kitchen – mmmmmm, good!)

But we do not know who IN EMMONAK was responsible for this, or who to thank!

If you can help us out with this, that would be great …… it’s a mystery to us.  All we know is that Sen. Kookesh’s office arranged to have the salmon sent from Emmonak.

I would like to send a special and personal thanks via Anon Bloggers, as I know it would be appreciated there.

best –
yukonbushgrma
Eagle

Anyone have an answer to this mystery?

And there’s more good news from Eagle Village!

Yesterday lovemydogs posted this on Mudflat’s open thread:

My husband spoke with Andy Bassich in Eagle today and the word is they “think” they will have the gravel to start on pads for foundations tomorrow–yay! Apparently there has been a lot of bureaucratic red tape/paperwork with the state that had to be worked through.

They have enough skilled carpenters to start on the cabins as soon as the gravel is moved.

Yukonbushgrma thinks the state had been giving them the run-around but FEMA came in and negotiated a contract for the gravel and it’s a done deal.

And some not so good news…

YBG goes on to explain that it’s not all good news. Some of the homes that were destroyed were second homes and, because they are considered vacation homes, they are not eligible for relief funds.

She is particularly sad to see one person who has done so much for the Eagle relief effort slip through the cracks. Andy Bassich has been the driving force behind this disaster recovery success story…

Andy has been our saving grace since breakup began ….. he had the idea to build these cabins, and the idea grew into a vision that was embraced by both state and federal governments! This has never, ever been done before in the history of the US! Eagle is making history here, using local knowledge and know-how to decide how to best recover from a disaster.

Andy deserves a gold medal. But guess what? He is getting nothing. He is getting paid for his work right now, but getting nothing from the State of Alaska or FEMA. Because he has a small cabin (primary residence) in Eagle, and his cabin downriver, although it is his place of business (mushing and subsistence tourism), doesn’t qualify for any disaster assistance.

Andy Bassich deserves help from somewhere! This guy came up with the idea to get Eagle’s homeless people through the coming winter, and he has been there every day to coordinate the new volunteers and make sure the work is getting done every day. And …… he’s had to worry about the gravel.

Please, help me figure out how to help Andy!

Any ideas?

~ Jane

Big Ray’s  is offering a 20% discount to Eagle Village residents and distributing gift cards to those who need them most. Gift cards are $10 – increase the quantity to donate more.

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Eagle Village: Funds Coming for Homes, Need Gravel to Put Them On!!

July 4, 2009

eagleflood11

After the ice flood in Eagle Village

Jul 4, 2009

It looks like FEMA dollars could be in the hands of Eagle residents and log homes put on order as early as next week! Eagle Village resident Andy Bassich has much good news to share in his latest report.

Money is starting to arrive and volunteers are on hand to begin rebuilding Eagle Village but there’s one big problem – the Department of Transportation is dragging its feet in making gravel available for the pads the homes will be built on.

Anybody with ideas or connections to the DOT, please let us know what we can do or who we should nag.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s Andy’s report:

Andy Bassich
Eagle, Alaska

Bassich has been the coordinator of the Eagle Rebuilding Construction Team. Here’s the message he sent to reporters:

A good day here in Eagle today. FEMA leadership came to Eagle today and met with all of the 13 home owners that are in need of having a new home built and gave the go ahead on funding and settling personal claims. The monies to cover the rebuild effort should go out to people later this week and we should be able to begin to make orders for the log home kits by early next week.

Monies are to be sent to the private homeowners, and they will work with myself and Eagle Tribal Council Donna Westphal and Chief Joyce Roberts to place the orders.

Bassich’s dogs, the day of the flood

We have also received a commitment from the National organization MDS Mennonite Disaster Service, who has committed two skilled working crews to lead on the rebuilding of the cabins. They have an impeccable reputation of highly skilled workers, and top quality
craftsmanship.

Samaritans Purse has made a tremendous commitment of additional funds to help bring the standard of the homes up. and to run and maintain the Volunteer camp. They will also provide a core group to assist in co-ordination of funding and materials in Eagle. In addition they will be providing a crew of trained carpenters to Eagle to tackle the multitude of jobs which need to be accomplished by our deadline of
Sept. 15.

Still a lot to do here and this is the beginning but smiles came to the folks that lost everything today for the first time since May 3-4.

Now I need your help to light a fire under the Governor and DOT to get off their @#$%^&*() and get the gravel pit pushed and make gravel available to us to put down the pads for the homes. This has been a frustrating experience to deal with DOT they have provide ZERO help to us in terms of Roads maintenance and any type of fast tracking in our disaster. I have not witnessed such total incompetence and Waste in any agency ever. Everything hinges now on getting gravel to the home site and every day we wait is making it difficult to achieve our goal. we have Volunteers ready to move in to help us. but we must have the pads down before home kits can be delivered.

… We are on the verge of making something happen here which few if any have ever experienced with FEMA and we want to provide them with a big “Gold Star” for the efforts they and the state have made to assist us. …

Andy Bassich is an Eagle resident and has been the coordinator of the Eagle Rebuilding Construction Team.

Yukonbushgrma: We Are Pretty Consumed With SBA and FEMA Paperwork!

June 29, 2009

Jun 29, 2009

Word has reached us, via Mudflats, that yukonbushgrma and family are busy rebuilding their home while living in Eagle Village this summer.  heir home was destroyed in last spring’s ice flood along with the rest of the historic village on the Yukon.

The generous Mudflats community pitched in and got the ball rolling faster than a speeding government agency.

The Mudflats community has been making donations via paypal to the “Rebuild Eagle Fund” which has, so far collected $14,600. We also purchased a pressure washer and accessories to help residents in the restoration.  Hope, a Mudflatter from the Kenai Peninsula, rounded up two truckloads of donations and supplies and drove all the way to Eagle with two others to deliver them to residents involved in the clean up.

The village has a terrific WikiSpace page with building updates, volunteer possibilities, donation resources and lists of specific items that are needed as rebuilding moves forward.

***

Here’s an update from yukonbushgrma courtesy of AKM at the Mudflats…

eagle13

This is what our view will be when the new cabin is finished.  All of those big spruce trees will be missed, but the higher elevation will be safer and provide a better view of the river.

eagle21

Start of the new place!  It will be built up on treated railroad ties secured to the concrete, then surrounded by gravel inside and out.  The pipe sticking up is the well pipe, with 6 feet added on to allow for the higher elevation.  The pile of stuff in the background is saved belongings.

eagle31

A miracle!!!!!  My Saskatoon Berry bush lived, after being covered for weeks with heavy ice and garbage!  It looks a little rough, but see the leaves on it?  There’s another one too … at first that one looked dead (right down to just a few little sticks), but near the base it has teeny tiny reddish buds.

eagle41

The sorting process.  Saved quite a bit of lumber.  The wall tent in the background holds salvaged belongings.  Gradually we’re rounding up some of the firewood too.

eagle51

Debris … some of it has already been removed.

Heh heh, we’ve been having fun watching the critters around the yard.  There have been quite a few gulls hanging around and picking at the leftovers.  The gulls chase the ravens off — gutsy buggers!  And the hares have been around in large numbers – they don’t even seem to be very afraid.  No bears seen poking around, as far as I know.

Right now we are pretty consumed with SBA and FEMA paperwork. The application process is pretty daunting, especially for someone who has other things to do besides count beans… In the past few weeks we’ve had quite a few folks here from FEMA and SBA. Everyone is in the initial stage of being interviewed to determine eligibility for federal disaster assistance.

Of course, each case is handled individually and very few of us have any idea where we stand yet or who will be getting direct financial help, so everything we’ve received from donations just means that much more. Bless you, and all the gang, for all you’ve done to help us here!

We will just have to hope that something comes through — but most Eagle residents doubt that could happen in time for us to get homes built before winter. Rebuild Eagle’s concept of building log cabins through an assembly line process seems to have gotten the attention of the FEMA and state people, but it still has to be approved through a housing task force that’s been set up to address housing for all flood victims across the state. Hope the task force supports it.

That’s about all I know for now … really must get back to work!

YBG

Eagle Village: So Much To Do, So Little Time!

June 27, 2009

eagle

Jun 27, 2009

It’s been almost two months since Eagle Village was destroyed when a massive ice flood moved down the Yukon in early May. Folks have not only lost their homes but their livelihoods and continue to suffer from this tragic loss.

Since the disaster area declaration many federal and state agencies have visited, assessed and promised but those funds might not be available in time to make a difference this summer. Villagers, volunteers and donors are involved in a monumental effort to get people ready for another winter.

The village has a terrific WikiSpace page with building updates, volunteer possibilities, donation resources and lists of specific items that are needed as rebuilding moves forward.

Since transportation of goods to Eagle Village is limited, it’s important to match donations with needs. If you are able to help with a large donation of equipment or tools, please stick with items on the Wiki site lists unless you can squeeze them into a flat rate box.

We are hoping people will help out with Eagle Village’s Warm Hearts Fund to help replace the winter apparel that was washed away in the flood. Warm clothing is an essential part of life in the bush and this is a convenient way to help.

To date our Warm Hearts Fund is not doing very well. I’d encourage folks to do a little surfing on the web and check out what interior Alaska is like in the winter. Folks here don’t dress for fashion…but for survival. Good quality winter gear is hard to come by at a reasonable cost. Getting outfitted is expensive and those who lost everything can expect to pay about $800 to get one set of gear, that does not include long johns, multiple types of socks and the variety of foot gear needed. PLEASE seriously consider helping with this fund. You can contribute by calling BIG RAYS in Fairbanks, Alaska at 907.452.3458 and purchasing a winter clothing gift card.

Big Ray’s has an online catalog so we contacted them today about adding an option to their site to accept online donations. We should have more info about that early next week.

Volunteers, both individuals and groups, have been warmly welcomed and are making a big difference.

The residents of the Eagle area would like to encourage skilled and unskilled volunteers to spend some time in this beautiful and historic area of Alaska. Temperatures have been in the 70’s and 80’s…perfect for drying out the flooded buildings and swamped out land. Local residents feel strongly about meeting the needs of volunteers and making sure their experience here is a positive one.

Anyone looking for a rewarding summer can take advantage of this:

We have had many volunteers come in groups and as individuals. The Bureau of Land Management has made the beautiful Ft. Egbert campground fee zero. Hopefully our volunteers will take advantage of that! Thank you, BLM

Please take a look at the Eagle Village WikiSpace page. You’ll see what a natural disaster can do to a remote community and what a community of caring souls can accomplish, both physically and electronically to rebuild from devastation.

Thanks as always!
Jane

This is Just Melting Snow!

May 18, 2009

May 18, 2009

Remember the Lap Game Ann described on April 23?

lap game 1

This is a photo of about 20 of the Nunam kids playing Alaska Native “Lap Game” kind of like baseball on Swan Lake the lake that separates the two sides of Nunam.  “Lap Game” is kind of like baseball.

Ann sent this photo of Swan Lake taken last night.

swan lake where lap game

She also reports that, although they haven’t had breakup yet, the melting snow has caused flooding on the boardwalk to the airport.

airport boardwalkBoardwalk to Nunam Iqua airport

There are still no flood watches or warnings for Ann’s area. Hopefully this will be as bad as it gets!

~ Jane

Eagle AK: This Year Was SURREAL

May 10, 2009

yukonhouse2 After evacuating, yukonbushgrandma returned to this

May 10, 2009

Tonight on the national news in the lower 48 the lead story has been the flash flooding in West Virgina. There’s this from the Charleston Daily Mail:

LOGAN, W.Va. (AP) – Heavy rains caused flash-flooding Saturday in southern West Virginia, closing many highways, forcing residents from their homes and prompting Gov. Joe Manchin to declare a state of emergency.

We get very little news coverage of non-political events and situations from Alaska and when we do, it’s hard to put it in a frame of reference. Here’s a map – we’ll add villages as news from them emerges.

Yukonbushgrandma illustrated it for all of as at Mudflats today. She and her husband live in Eagle Village, the area where the first reports of damage from the early melt out emerged.

We were the lead story one night on KTUU.  Those brave ladies (reporter & videographer) wanted to see, and record, what our house looked like after the onslaught.  I hadn’t seen it yet myself.  They walked down the steep bank of moss, roots and stumps, and eventually we got down to the house.  It was totally enveloped in massive ice chunks, preventing entry to the house anywhere.  The only way to enter was to break a window and enter by ladder, being very careful not to get cut by broken window shards.

We have entered that window many times since then, trying to retrieve anything that might be salvageable.  Every time we go there, I cry.  We can get things, but they are so messed up, covered with diesel and silt, that we wonder if it’s truly worth rescuing them.

This is far from the mouth of the Yukon where Emmonak and Nunam Iqua are located. There are many villages between them that the melting ice, high waters and diesel pollution must pass through before entering the Bering Sea.

Our thoughts are with you yukonbushgrandma! Please keep us posted about relief operations in Eagle and with other information you hear as this icy disaster makes its way to the ocean.

brkup_map

Click  here for an updated photo that shows flood warnings and advisories along the Yukon.

Backstory…
‘Tsunami’ Of Ice Wreaks Havoc On Alaskan Town

‘Tsunami’ Of Ice Wreaks Havoc On Alaskan Town

May 9, 2009
alaska430Alaska State Troopers photo

May 9, 2009

High temperatures in Alaska have caused an unusually fast spring melt causing flooding that has all but destroyed the Yukon community of Eagle Village.

Dan Bross had this report on KUAC that was later picked up on NPR.

All Things Considered, May 8, 2009 · Temperatures in some parts of Alaska soared into the 70s this week, causing a rapid “melt-out” of ice and snow along the Yukon River and unprecedented flooding that nearly wiped out the small community of Eagle.

The historic gold rush outpost sits on the upper reaches of the Yukon River on the eastern edge of Alaska, along the border with Canada.

“The Front Street buildings, the store, the museum, the shop, some houses and storage buildings all have been basically destroyed,” says resident John Borg, 41.

An aerial view shows at least two dozen buildings submerged in a sea of car-sized ice chunks and 30 feet of muddy floodwater on Tuesday.

There is also flooding in Ft. Yukon and Circle that is now being reported by Tim Mowry at Newsminer.com.

It appeared the “wall” of water that was released by the ice jam in Eagle on Monday night passed through Circle on Tuesday morning and was on its way to Fort Yukon, said Ed Plumb, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.

The “breakup front,” as weather officials called it, was about 20 miles upstream of Fort Yukon and moving downriver, Plumb said.

It appeared the “wall” of water that was released by the ice jam in Eagle on Monday night passed through Circle on Tuesday morning and was on its way to Fort Yukon, said Ed Plumb, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.

The “breakup front,” as weather officials called it, was about 20 miles upstream of Fort Yukon and moving downriver, Plumb said.

It appeared the “wall” of water that was released by the ice jam in Eagle on Monday night passed through Circle on Tuesday morning and was on its way to Fort Yukon, said Ed Plumb, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.

The “breakup front,” as weather officials called it, was about 20 miles upstream of Fort Yukon and moving downriver, Plumb said.

Yukon River Flood Statement from the National Weather Service in Fairbanks

Kuskoquim River Flood Advisory from the National Weather Service in Anchorage

Anonymous Bloggers is deeply concerned about the flooding along the Yukon. We would like anyone in contact with folks in the area to leave a comment describing thier situation.

If you have ideas or more information about ways we can help, please leave a comment. Brainstorming in the blogosphere helped us aid Nunam Iqua, Pilot Point, Ugashik and Alakanuk. We want to be of assistance in this crisis too!

So far we know the Red Cross in Fairbanks is accepting donations for Eagle. Everts Air (a local air freight/fuel company) is donating planes/pilots/crew to get goods up to Eagle and just did a 10,500 pound drop yesterday.

The Fairbanks Red Cross can be reached at (907) 456-5937; the Alaska State Homeland Security Department is also on the ground, coordinating from Anchorage (907) 428-7286.