Heavy rains brought flooding to parts of Alaska over the weekend, forcing people from their homes. The American Red Cross of Alaska responded, opening shelters in the affected areas.
Flood warnings along Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula have been extended until late Tuesday night. Homes in the area are inundated with water, flooding and landslides have closed roads and bridges, wells may be contaminated and residents are asked to boil water for consumption or cleaning. Governor Sean Parnell has declared a state disaster for the affected areas.
Red Cross workers opened shelters in the Matanuska and Susitna Valley as rising waters prompted evacuations, and is sending teams into the area to assess the damages. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation with state and local officials and is prepared to open additional shelters if needed.
The region affected by the floodwaters is vast, similar to the distance from San Francisco, California to Portland, Oregon in the lower 48 states. Red Cross volunteers in Alaska from Tanana and Fairbanks are deploying to south-central Alaska to support the relief efforts.
SAFETY STEPS There are steps people should take to stay safe if their community is affected by the flooding:
AFTER THE FLOOD As floodwaters recede, people should return home only when officials say it is safe to do so. Keep children and pets away from floodwater. Wells in the area may be contaminated. Residents are asked to boil their water before using to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, bathe, make ice or make baby formula. They should discard items that have come in contact with flood water, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples.
More information on flood safety is available on the Red Cross web site.