When western Alaska was impacted by Typhoon Merbok, Nome Council Road was breached by the storm surge, making it completely impassable.
Our crews responded by hauling over 100,000 TONS of material to Nome Council Road and Front Street to make emergency repairs. THANK YOU to our hard working tradesmen who worked extended hours to complete the repairs necessary before freeze-up. Check out this video with all the details.
FHWA Press release: U.S. Department of Transportation Providing Alaska $9 Million in ‘Quick Release’ Emergency Relief Funding to Repair Storm and Flood Damage from Typhoon Merbok in Western Alaska
Alaska DOT&PF’s Maintenance & Operations personnel have turned over work sites and are now focusing on getting communities winter-ready. Additional operators from Alaska’s Interior are working in Nome.
Contractor personnel and equipment is under contract and actively working on repairs to both Front Street in Nome, as well as Nome Council Road. Our goal is to have these roads rebuilt to handle basic vehicle access by October 15.
We have also sent the Federal Highway Administration a notice of intent to request Emergency Relief funds to assist in the cost of repairing damages, which we are anticipating to exceed $15M.
Contractors are mobilizing barges and equipment to Golovin, Elim, and Shaktoolik to complete repairs of the public roads.
We have also identified damages in Shishmaref and Teller. The damages were not as significant as other locations, and we are utilizing our local M&O personnel and Contractors to repair those areas.
Communities in the affected region may be underreporting damage to local public owned transportation infrastructure. DOT&PF is encouraging communities to report damage via Survey123 (below) so we can connect them with resources.
DOT&PF is bringing on a consultant team to document the damage, emergency repair work, and determine the scope of work for permanent repairs. Team starts Monday in Nome.
Commissioner Anderson accompanied Governor Dunleavy and DMVA Commissioner Saxe to inspect the damage along Alaska’s western coast, and to meet with community leaders immediate steps and longer term, helping match them with state and federal resources for the long term recovery.
What the inspections found:
The storm created a great deal of damage from the storm surge and high winds, including personal property drinking water systems, erosion issues, airport weather equipment, fuel spills, and both local and state road damage.
What we’re doing next:
Making emergency repairs in the next three weeks, before freeze up, is critical for communities in order to ensure access to infrastructure.
AIRPORTS: We’re making repairs to all airports that were damaged. While the airports proved to be fairly resilient, there was some erosion, impact to runway lights, and damage to FAA weather equipment. Erosion can limit the length of the usable runway, or change how a pilot can approach a runway. Heavy equipment operators are in the field right now to shore up runways that sustained damage. Teams are visiting communities to document damage, which is crucial to connecting state and federal funding for short and long-term repairs.
While much of our aviation infrastructure stood up to being overtopped by ocean water, the electronic weather systems did not fare well. FAA weather systems are important to safe airport operations, assisting pilots to understand conditions, so we are inspecting, documenting and relaying information back to FAA. To date we are reporting the following Automated Weather Operating Systems (AWOS) as out of service (OTS):
ROADS: State and local roads took the brunt of the storm impact, in particular in Nome and the surrounding communities.
DOT&PF now has the authority to bring in contractors per emergency contract, which we will be utilizing in Nome to make repairs as quickly as possible. In addition to DOT&PF heavy equipment operators that we have brought in statewide, we are also mobilizing a contractor and beginning repair work today.
DOT&PF Bridge Foreman is onsite today in Nome and is assessing local bridges for damage or structural issues.
Alaska DOT&PF has been receiving updates from our M&O personnel and airport contractors in the communities throughout the day. We are getting a better picture of what damages have occurred, and have already started clearing debris and repairing damages. All of the reports we are discussing today should be considered preliminary, as we continue to learn more from our personnel on the ground.
Overall our airport system was resilient in the face of this storm event. With so many communities affected by this event, we have confirmed that we haven’t seen major damages on our runways, although we have had personnel out clearing debris off of runway surfaces, and are hearing that access to roads to the airports have been compromised. We also have airports in several communities with lighting systems out due to community wide power outages. (Shaktoolik, Scammon Bay, and Newtok are all locations where we are assessing runway damages).
Several roads in the region have been damaged, and to date we have heard about damages to roads and bridges in Nome, as well as outlying roads such as Nome Council. We have also heard about road damages in Hooper Bay, Shaktoolik, Elim, Napaskiak, Newtok, and others. We are reaching out to communities to further understand damages to local roads and bridges We are assembling personnel to address concerns regarding bridge damages.
DOT&PF is receiving reports of significant erosion, some experiencing over 100’ of shoreline loss, including Shaktoolik, Nome, Newtok, Scammon Bay, and Tununak. We are also working with communities to assess any port, dock and barge landing damages. (Bethel, Scammon Bay, Nome, and others).
We are already beginning to rebuild road and airport access infrastructure to provide a basic pioneer access to ensure connectivity. As we work to re-establish basic connectivity for DOT&PF infrastructure, we will be closely coordinating with SEOC, and offering DOT&PF resources to assist with damage assessments, and rebuilding efforts for local infrastructure.
Watch Governor Mike Dunleavy's Saturday, Sep. 17th press conference.
Alaska DOT&PF is starting initial assessments of the state airports, roads, and buildings affected by the 2022 Typhoon.
Restoring access is critically important to communities, and in addition to our staff and contract staff in communities, we have dozens of heavy equipment operators ready for deployment to impacted areas.
We are also working with private sector contractors to bring them into the emergency repair work as soon as the needs are identified.
Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration has granted approval to utilize airport/AIP equipment off airport for direct response to the disaster areas.
Here’s what we know as of 9 a.m. 9/18/22. We will post an more extensive update later today after more assessement.
Please watch Governor Mike Dunleavy's Saturday, Sep. 17th press conference here. (best viewed using Firefox or Safari)
We'll post a situation update by mid morning on Sunday, Sept. 18.
The storm is ongoing and residents are still taking shelter in many communities.
The Governor has declared a disaster and the State of Alaska has formed an emergency operations center to respond. Damage assessment will begin as soon as the storm water recede.
We will post more information as it becomes available.
Alaska has an incredible network of airports, and when big storms happen or mechanical issues take place, DOT&PF airport employees make sure planes and pilots get the support they need to sit out a storm. The China Air Cargo flight that was diverted on Friday (9/16) to King Salmon was related to several different weather patterns and was not directly attributable to the 2022 Typhoon Storm.
A coastal flood warning is in effect from Friday, September 16, 2022 through Sunday morning, September 18, 2022 along the coast from the Bering Strait to Hooper Bay. Sea levels of 3-8 feet above the normal high tide along the Bering Strait coast, 8-11 feet near Nome, 9-13 feet near Golovin, 12-18 feet from Elim to Koyuk, 8-12 feet from Shaktoolik to Stebbins, and 3-8 feet from St. Michael to Hooper Bay.
South winds 40-60mph, with gusts as high as 90 mph expected in the Norton Sound and Yukon Delta.
Coastal flooding may occur, in addition to significant beach erosion. Watch for flying debris due to strong winds.
For current weather conditions, follow Alaska National Weather Service on Facebook or visit their website here:
Alaska DOT&PF is monitoring conditions until the current coastal flood warning passes. Once the storm ends, we'll be assessing any damage to our infrastructure and make the necessary repairs.
If you would like to report road conditions to DOT&PF's Nome maintenance station, leave a message at (907) 443-3411. For more information on our Maintenance & Operations Stations visit: dot.alaska.gov/stwdmno/mno_nr.shtml