JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – The rural community of Selawik suffered a power outage Feb. 14, and a subsequent shutdown of their water treatment plant in which clean water and sewage pipes then froze due to extremely low temperatures.
The traditional Inupiat Eskimo community of nearly 900 people is in the Northwest Arctic Borough (NWAB) and lies within the Arctic Circle, about 700 miles northwest of Anchorage.
Power is restored and the transmission line from the water source to the central water storage tank is operational. A backup generator at the water plant and sewage vacuum system is working, and water is now circulating in the distribution mains. Several commercial and residential water lines remain frozen.
The NWAB contacted the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) Feb. 15 to notify them of the situation, the same day that Selawik’s commercial power provider was able to establish temporary power to be rationed with scheduled power outages until full power was restored.
Since notification of the power failure, the SEOC has been coordinating with the City and Tribe of Selawik, NWAB, NWAB School District, NANA Corporation, Maniilaq Health, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to address community power issues. ADEC has issued a boil-water notice for the community.
The City of Selawik declared a disaster Feb. 16 and requested state assistance. Correspondingly, upon determination for need of additional support, borough emergency operations centers work with the SEOC to gather and provide necessary information to determine whether assistance and funding is needed beyond city and borough solutions, and if state assistance is required.
The SEOC continues to work with Selawik and the NWAB to identify pertinent community impacts, damage, cost estimates and additional details, and partner agency contributions, before they are able to determine whether state assistance will be necessary.