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Contact: Morgan Warthin, NPS Public Information, 907-455-0658
Emergency response operations by the National Park Service continued in Eagle today as residents kept a wary eye on the Yukon River and the icy waters which slammed into the town earlier this week.
Staff of Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve based in Eagle and Fairbanks have provided emergency air evacuations for two downriver residents, delivered supplies to Eagle Village and to evacuees staying at the Eagle School, and are helping the community with communications and coordination with State of Alaska officials, said NPS Incident Commander James Savage.
“We’re progressing towards a transition with the state of Alaska, but we are going to be here for some time providing support for the community and then starting assessment efforts on National Park Service assets here in town and downriver in the preserve,” said Yukon-Charley Rivers Superintendent Greg Dudgeon.
A state response team had hopes of arriving in Eagle today, but flights into the northeast Alaska community of 150 were canceled due to snow and rain. The NPS is also working with the community to check on about 10 people who live on private land within the preserve, which begins about 15 miles downstream of Eagle.
Savage said the Red Cross in Fairbanks is taking donations for relief in Eagle and other locations. The key needs are toiletry items such as toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, and other items which can go into “comfort kits.” American Red Cross spokesman Butch Stein said donations can be made to their Fairbanks office at 725 26th Avenue.
At this time NPS assets in Eagle have remained above the flood waters, but it is unclear what damage may have occurred to public use cabins, historic structures, and other park facilities downriver. Nor is it clear how those will fare as the Yukon continues its breakup in the days to come. Eagle residents said water levels were fluctuating today, and significant amounts of ice remain upriver well into Canada.
Savage’s command team includes a safety officer who noted that much of Eagle today smells like a fuel tank farm, presumably from ruptured fuel and oil tanks. Among the assessment work to be done in the preserve this spring will be a reconnaissance of tanks and other hazardous material that may have come downstream.
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve is a 2.5 million acre unit of the National Park System; it was established in 1980. The preserve has its general headquarters in Fairbanks, a year-round office in Eagle, and seasonal operations in the preserve.