North Slope storm causes estimated $10 million in damage

ANCHORAGE — Damages from a recent storm in Alaska’s North Slope could end up costing the regional government more than $10 million, and a damaged road in the nation’s northernmost town could keep whalers from an important subsistence area.

 

North Slope Borough officials say the late September storm caused severe damage in the town of Utqiagvik (oot-GHAR’-vik) because of wave surges and winds gusting at more than 45 mph. The storm in the community formerly known as Barrow lasted several days and eroded roads and protective berms. It also damaged infrastructure and personal property in the town.

About 3,700 feet of a beach road has been destroyed, preventing access to a lagoon area that is used as a backup site to land whales if waves are too intense on the coast.

Two lagoons below the town’s freshwater lake were flooded, now with water levels nearly reaching the level of the freshwater source. Officials say freshwater culverts were plugged to prevent saltwater reaching the fresh water lake.

In Utqiagvik and the nearby Browerville site, 22 lots also were flooded.

Seven historical lots on a bluff were undercut by wave surges that left the area unstable and beginning to collapse.

Officials say other coastal communities in the region are still being assessed for damages.

The borough is footing the bill for the repairs, David Fauske, a borough spokesman, said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday. There are no plans at this time to seek a federal disaster declaration, he said.

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