Alaska governor declares disaster after ‘historic-level storm’ floods coastal towns

JUNEAU, Alaska — Remnants of Typhoon Merbok are causing widespread damage along the western coastline of Alaska.

The powerful storm is traveling north through the Bering Strait and has caused widespread flooding in several coastal communities, according to The Associated Press. Some homes have been moved off their foundations from the force of the water.

At 9:39 am local time, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a disaster for the communities affected by the storm.

“Just now, I verbally declared a disaster for communities impacted by the West Coast storm. SEOC (State Emergency Operations Center) has received no reports of injuries at this time. We will continue to monitor the storm and update Alaskans as much as possible,” Dunleavy said.

Coastal flooding has already been reported in various isolated communities in the Norton Sound in western Alaska. In Shaktoolik, a village 125 miles east of Nome, waves have already broken over the seawall and are entering the town.

University of Alaska Fairbanks climate specialist Rick Thoman told The Associated Press that “it’s a historic-level storm.”

Typhoon Merbok formed farther east in the Pacific Ocean than where such storms typically appear. Water temperatures are unusually warm this year so the storm “was able to spin up,” Thoman said.

Other coastal cities in the Norton Sound have reported significant flooding, including Gloving, Kotlik and Nome.

According to the National Weather Service, Nome has reported a tide height of over 10 feet. The highest tide in the area was 12 feet in 1974.

Flights from Anchorage to the sparsely populated region have been canceled due to the storm.

Alaska state troopers are working with various government agencies, including the Alaska National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.