ANCHORAGE, Alaska – In 2009 following an ice jam that occurred 10 miles downriver, flooding destroyed Eagle Village. The recovery plan of the Yukon River community located near the Canadian border would pay dividends four years later.
The 2013 spring flood created a similar set of circumstances. Ice jams formed on the Yukon River outside the village and created substantial flooding, which impacted the same location as the 2009 event.
However, Eagle Village was spared because its nearly 70 inhabitants chose to relocate. Instead of rebuilding alongside the river, the community moved and rebuilt about three miles inland. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paid for building materials for new homes, community buildings and a tribal hall, and the costs of shipping the materials by air and by road open only in summer. FEMA also paid for the new buildings to be elevated on gravel, anchors to keep them in place, and transportation costs for volunteer groups to travel and construct the buildings.
The city of Eagle, however, was not so fortunate this spring. Located about eight miles upriver from Eagle Village, the community of about 90 was inundated with water. Many homes and community buildings were damaged.
One home in the city of Eagle, however, withstood this year’s spring floods. With the assistance of FEMA funds, Nick and Jean Turner elevated their home on gravel and installed anchors to tie the structure’s foundation to the ground.
Floodwater inundated nearby buildings constructed on ground level. While floodwater rose more than seven feet around the Turner’s home, it was unscathed because of the mitigation techniques the family utilized following the 2009 flood.
“I elevated to make sure I wouldn’t flood again,” Nick Turner said. “Without mitigation, I would be flooded, ripping up the floor of my house…Jean and I are very fortunate FEMA runs the program they do.”
For more information on helpful, money-saving mitigation methods, such as elevation, flood proofing and foundation ties, visit FEMA.gov/building-science-publications.