Gov. Mike Dunleavy has issued a disaster declaration for an Alaska village after a January fire destroyed its only source of clean water.
The Jan. 16 fire destroyed the village of Tuluksak’s washeteria and water plant building. Since the fire, water donations have poured in from across the state for the Western Alaska village.
The disaster declaration, which Dunleavy announced Monday evening, frees up funding that will allow the village to repair its treatment plant and other setbacks associated with the fire. The declaration provides short term and immediate measures establishing temporary watering facilities and other processes to provide the community with potable water, according to a release from the governor’s office.
“I would like to thank all of the agencies and individuals who donated water to the community of Tuluksak,” Dunleavy said in the release. “It never ceases to amaze me the generosity that Alaskans show when their neighbors are in need. Often, these individuals are the unsung heroes of the disaster response and recovery effort.”
Currently, Tuluksak residents have access to bottled water, which was donated to the community and is available for purchase in the community store, the governor’s release stated. Air service is operational to the village, and the ice road to Bethel and other communities provides access to potable water.
A multi-agency group is meeting to develop short- and long-term solutions to the community’s water issues, according to the governor’s office. Short term solutions include providing a supply of filtered but nondrinkable water to support a temporary bathing and laundry facility; moving and setting up a mobile water treatment system from Bethel to Tuluksak to establish a temporary watering point; or to purchase a prefabricated treatment building and ship it to the community.
The declaration comes after a weekend of mounting social media pressure on the governor’s office, encouraging Dunleavy to activate the declaration. Musical group the Black Eyed Peas even got involved, tweeting to the governor, “@MikeDunleavyGov, the people of Tuluksak need the help of the state and city to resolve this crisis!”
Contact Interim Managing Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or at twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.