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Alaska faces flood recovery

BY SUSAN KIM | FAIRBANKS, AK | July 22, 2002

After spring flooding, many small communities around Fairbanks are still struggling to make a long-term recovery. Faith-based groups are helping to clean up homes and offering spiritual care for flood survivors.

In May interior Alaska experienced above-average rainfall, accelerating the spring snow melt and breaking up ice along interior river systems. Ice jam flooding resulted in about 10 times the yearly average volume of water.

Villages and communities in and around Fairbanks -- including McGrath, Lime Village, Sleetmute, Red Devil, and Crooked Creek -- were affected. Aniak, Bethel, Kwethluk, New Stuyahok, and Ekwok also saw flooding.

Scores of homes had anywhere from one inch to four feet of water, causing major damage to sheet rock, foundations, insulation, sub-flooring, walls, carpeting, generators, vehicles, and personal property.

Lime Village lost its community “washeteria,” which included the community well, public showers, restroom, and laundry equipment. There is no alternate potable water source for residents.

A Church World Service (CWS) representative will visit affected areas this month to help coordinate a long-term interfaith response.

Faith-based disaster response groups have been helping to meet short- and long-term needs. Teams from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are helping to clean up flood-damaged homes. The Salvation Army has shipped furniture to flood survivors who lost all their belongings.

CWS will meet with local leaders to assess needs and coordinate the roles of responding agencies.

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