ANCHORAGE, AK – Volunteers with the Disciples of Christ have returned home after repairing nine homes in Alaska that were damaged by last year’s spring breakup flooding along the Yukon River. Last summer, the volunteers completed repairs to seven homes in Hughes. This July, a team of 11 volunteers, three of whom returned for a second season, finished construction on two homes in Emmonak.
“It went really well,” said Disciples of Christ Volunteer Team Leader, David Bell. “We were able to get on the ground and start working right away. Before we knew it, everything was completed.”
Bell attributed much of the success to preparations made by the State of Alaska and the Federal Emergency Management Agency before volunteers arrived. Because Emmonak is not connected to Alaska’s road system, the agency flew in building materials ordered by the eligible homeowners, along with construction tools and safety gear for the teams. The agency also arranged for local lodging and in-state air travel for the volunteers.
“Our goal was to ensure survivors could occupy their repaired homes before the onset of winter. By doing so, we not only provided them a safe and secure place to live, but also helped sustain the culture and fabric of the community,” said State Coordinating Officer, Bryan Fisher. “The Disciples of Christ have been exceptional partners in this effort.”
Following flooding that occurred along the Yukon River in May 2013, six communities needed assistance from the State of Alaska and FEMA in repairing or rebuilding homes, including Emmonak and Hughes. To date, all repairs and rebuilds have been completed in Emmonak, Fort Yukon and Hughes with work in Alakanuk, Circle and Galena still underway and slated to be completed this summer.
The western Alaskan village of Emmonak, located less than 10 miles from the Bering Sea and 490 air miles from Anchorage, has over 750 residents, predominantly Yupik Natives. Many of the locals live a subsistence lifestyle, relying on fishing and hunting during the summer and fall months to feed their families.
Hughes, a small Koyukon Athabascan community of less than 90 people, is located in central, Interior Alaska on the banks of the Koyukuk River about 210 air miles from Fairbanks. Like Emmonak, most locals in Hughes practice a traditional, subsistence lifestyle.
Photos of Disciples of Christ volunteers repairing homes in Emmonak, taken by team leader David Bell, are available on the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s website or link to the following for this news release: