FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Communities along Alaska’s western coast faced widespread flooding Saturday as a powerful storm — the remnants of Typhoon Merbok — roared across the Bering Sea, with wind gusts tearing the siding off buildings and a storm surge pulling homes from their foundations.
The impact was felt across hundreds of miles of coastline as the storm raked the state from south to north. In Nome, raging waters pushed into six of the city’s streets, including part of Front Street, near where mushers finish the Iditarod sled dog race. In Chevak, about 200 miles south, images showed sheds floating in tumbling waves next to sunken boats.
In Golovin, 70 miles east of Nome, Dean Peterson said water had jumped the 20-foot berm that protects the community of 170 people, rushing through the lower-lying areas, pulling three homes from their foundations and destroying another.
John Handeland, mayor of Nome, said Saturday morning no injuries have been reported, but several roads flooded.
Forecasters said the storm’s size and strength made it one of the most powerful systems to move through the Bering Sea area in decades. Waves north of the Aleutian Islands peaked at 50 feet Friday. Many communities experienced wind gusts close to hurricane strength.
Emergency responders from local, state, federal and tribal agencies were preparing to deploy. The region includes many communities that have a few hundred people or fewer and are not connected by roads, which makes a broad response more difficult.
The airplane runways used to transport goods to individual communities also posed logistical issues for response efforts; photos showed that some of them appeared to be covered in water Saturday.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy said on Facebook he had declared a disaster for the communities hit by the storm. He added that the state emergency operations center had not received any reports of injuries. Alaska State troopers said they were prepared to assist with search and rescue efforts, if necessary.