Dunleavy declares disaster for Buckland, as flooding subsides but mess remains


Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a disaster for the City of Buckland and Native Village of Buckland after an ice jam on the Buckland River caused severe flooding in the city.

The declaration activates the state’s Individual and Public Assistance disaster recovery programs.

“I have directed all state agencies to provide assistance in the most expeditious manner possible,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The flooding caused significant damage to homes, roads and utility infrastructure so a declaration is warranted to get the community back on its feet as soon as possible.”

The City of Buckland and the Northwest Arctic Borough had both declared disasters in response to the flooding that began May 12. The flooding brought more than five feet of water and river ice into the community and inundated homes, forcing evacuations. A “boil water” notice is in effect because of impacts to the water treatment plant. Displaced stove oil barrels have left some homes without heat.

“We’re sad to see this happen to the people of Buckland, but the city, tribe, and borough’s response to this event has been incredible,” said Bryan Fisher, Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “This community had a Small Community Emergency Response Plan and enacted it immediately. Coordination between Buckland, the Northwest Arctic Borough, and the state has been seamless.The leadership and residents of Buckland should be commended for their preparedness, quick actions, and resilience.”

The water level has dropped in the community and responders are beginning a more thorough damage assessment.


  1. Looks like a beautiful village right on the river and I’d assume great fishing there as well! Many of our Alaskan Native Villages were traditionally built in locations where there was good subsistence fishing, hunting and trapping, and not necessarily on flood free high ground. There’s a massive multi-trillion dollar federal infrastructure bill being proposed, and we have a lot of worthy projects around the state that need funding! Now is the time for all of our State & Federal Representatives, and Local Governments to Draft Proposals for Critical Infrastructure Improvements that are needed all over Alaska, and work on getting as much of the Federal Funding as possible! With the help of federal funding some of these at risk villages could be relocated to higher ground and egress roads could be built to provide safe evacuation routes in the event of seasonally flooding, or tidal anomalies.

  2. Villagers told me 40 years ago that they used to move the village often but after the runway and school were built they were stuck there. Evidently nobody bothered to ask them for their opinion.

  3. Sorry, but no funding for those who continue to build and reside in flooded areas and continue to exhaust resources to live in remote areas of the state. They took the risk, they lost, and now the rest of the other people PAY.

  4. So if we take down the school and remove the landing strip then they will be capable of moving on their own again? They won’t be stuck? If their opinion was asked do you think they would of recommend we build schools and airports someplace else? I don’t think so Ben

  5. Good for you, Governor Dunleavy! I’m sure not one resident of the city or village of Buckland will sign the recall.

  6. The villagers said they used to tow their houses with their boats up or down the river every year or so to utilize a new area.. It is a bit more difficult to move a school, including a playground, that is built on pilings in a swamp. I’m pretty certain they would not have picked the swamp, although, it is perhaps better than a gravel spit sticking out into the ocean.

  7. Paul, Ben is absolutely correct, sorry to burst your bubble. Many tribal groups had several different spots or villages for use throughout the year. Fishing, Berry Picking, Hunting, Winter encampment and so forth. These encampments were chosen for their access to a resource and also in recognition that location was important when the ice broke up or the wind blew! Perhaps you should spend some time in Rural Alaska and enlarge your thinking. Yes, the School, like the Church used to be, is now the center of Rural Life. The tank farms and airport provide the means to stay where the School is. Good thing that those smart Engineers designed the Tank Farm and Airport to withstand a high flood, if they didn’t then this would have truly been a disaster.

  8. I was in Kivalina two years ago working , while the state (your tax dollars) were building a roadway.
    Seven miles out from the mountains to the deteriorating 1/4 mile wide island on the edge of the Chukchi Sea. In the new area, away from the damage of the ocean waves eating away the island. Plus they are building a New water system and a New school for them too. Yes half of the town was in favor of the new changes the other half, was not moving.
    More of your tax dollars to rescue them, the next winter storm.
    Even tho the state built a new Safe place, for them to move.

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