Chevak leaders declare local emergency after storm losses

a downed radio tower
Chevak’s radio tower lies on the ground after being toppled during a massive Western Alaska storm on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2022, with local winds reaching at least 70 mph. (Courtesy Aden Atcherian)

The Chevak Native Village and the City of Chevak declared a state of emergency Tuesday night, during a joint meeting in response to widespread damage from last weekend’s Western Alaska storm.

The emergency declaration comes after the remnants of Typhoon Merbok destroyed dozens of boats local residents use for fishing and hunting. Many people in the Cup’ik community around 136 miles west of Bethel also reported losing fishing nets, dry houses and racks and other equipment essential to the Indigenous subsistence life in Western Alaska. The fate of dozens of fishing and hunting camps used in summer and fall months is unknown.

Residents in the village of nearly 1,000 people are advised to boil their drinking water, four days after floodwaters from the storm inundated the community’s drinking water system.

The city and tribal council planned to use the community’s VHF radio system Wednesday to broadcast more information about the emergency declaration and how residents can seek assistance in creating an inventory of their losses.

Volunteer crews still have weeks of work ahead to pull swamped boats from the river and start repairs on damaged homes. Two houses in the community lost at least a portion of their roofs, while others have exterior damage.

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