JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Nine members of the Alaskan Organized Militia deployed to Bethel and Circle May 22 and 23 to support flood recovery efforts in western and interior Alaska.
The task force, which includes members of the Alaska Army and Air National Guard and the Alaska State Defense Force, will be prepared to conduct debris removal and other flood recovery operations under the direction of the Center of Alaska State Emergency Operations at both locations.
Four Alaska Air National Guardsmen and one ASDF member staged at Eielson Air Force Base before deploying to Circle in a government vehicle. Two service members, one from the Air Guard and one from the Army Guard, departed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson before flying to Bethel. They joined two ASDF members from Bethel and Kwethluk. The Bethel team will further deploy to Crooked Creek via fixed-wing aircraft.
The Bethel Armory is in standby mode, ready to provide emergency shelter to flood-related evacuees from the region.
The Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard, Major General Torrence Saxe, notified the Alaska Organized Militia to be ready to support affected communities after the declaration of emergency from Governor Mike Dunleavy on May 15. .
Saxe officially activated AKOM members on May 20 after the communities of Circle and Crooked Creek formally requested recovery support from SEOC.
“Our fellow Alaskans in the west and interior have been tremendously impacted by this season’s flooding, and our teams are prepared to help in any way they can during the challenging recovery process,” Saxe said. “Alaskans helping Alaskans. This is our most important mission.”
River flooding in both regions was due to unusually late snowfall and cold, followed by a rapid rise in temperature. The meltwater froze at night and melted during the day, causing ice dams to overflow on the riverbanks.
During state emergencies or natural disasters, SEOC receives requests for assistance from affected communities and allocates the most appropriate state resources to assist.
Federal and state agencies and humanitarian aid organizations continued to work to restore power and communications and open roads and airfields. There were no reports of injuries or deaths related to the flooding.