Ice Jams Cause Alaska Flooding

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Ice jams caused flooding on Alaska's
Yukon River on Wednesday, inundating the city of Eagle while
floating ice chunks the size of homes knocked several buildings off
their foundations.

The stubborn ice jam on the Yukon River near Eagle kept water
nearly 20 feet over the river's flood levels, the National Weather
Service said. The Yukon's flood levels at Eagle, about 200 miles
east of Fairbanks, was 34 feet.

Large pieces of ice on Tuesday crushed most of the buildings in
Eagle Village, a tiny community east of the city of Eagle. In the
city of Eagle, ice pushed over a retaining wall and against a row
of buildings along Front Street, knocking at least four off their
foundations.

Two of them, an old log cabin used as a storage shed and an old
sauna, were carried down the river.

"The restaurant is floating around," Jackie Helmer told the
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "The store is there, but it has ice up
to the roof. The bed and breakfast is still standing. It's kind of
cockeyed, but it's still there."

The National Park Service said about 10 homes in Eagle were
damaged or destroyed and an estimated 30 of the area's 125
residents were homeless. Officials said many damaged buildings
cannot be salvaged.

James Savage, an incident commander with the National Park
Service, said a safety officer reported Wednesday that much of
Eagle smelled like a fuel tank farm, presumably from ruptured fuel
and oil tanks.

Gov. Sarah Palin issued a disaster declaration for areas
affected by the flooding, including the drainages of the Yukon,
Kuskokwim, Kobus and Susitna rivers, providing easier access to
state disaster relief funds.

The weather service said more water was expected to move
downriver toward the community of Circle when the ice jam from
Eagle releases. Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the state Division of
Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said rising water
levels already were reported downstream at Fort Yukon, about 65
miles northwest of Circle.

A flood warning for communities near the river remained in
effect until Saturday.
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Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,
http://www.newsminer.com


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