Reducing the impact of spring ice-jam floods in the Arctic

Lead Author John, Eichelberger
Institution Contact Graduate School, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 USA
Co-Authors Tuyara Gavrileva, North-Eastern Federal University, Russia Yekaterina Kontar, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA Mikhail Prisyazhniy, North-Eastern Federal University, Russia
Theme Theme 1: Vulnerability of Arctic Environments
Session Name 1.4 Vulnerability of Arctic Communities to Natural Disasters
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 03:30 PM - 03:45 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text The phenomenon of springtime ice-jam floods imposes significant socioeconomic effects on residents of the Far North, especially in rural regions where disaster response and recovery are challenged by limited infrastructure, communication, and distance. Dialog and participatory research were conducted by a Russia-US team in paired flood-prone communities: Galena in Interior Alaska, USA and Edeytsy in Central Yakutia, Russia, to identify best practices in springtime flood risk reduction. We engaged with all stakeholders - emergency managers; federal, regional, and local policy makers and leaders; and citizens including the elderly - to determine their perception of the effectiveness of flood mitigation measures, and disaster response and recovery efforts. A high point of the project was enabling the community leaders of these flood-stricken towns to visit each other and their counterparts’ community.

Galena and Edeytsy are similar: remote from urban centers; situated on vast river flood plains; benefiting from Indigenous traditions and a strong sense of self-reliance; have a number of very large families; experienced the shock of sudden inundation in places they thought were safe; worked long on reconstruction. Both gained a sense of optimism from more awareness of the flood hazard, better levees, raising of homes and schools above the last flood level, and more capacity to shelter in place without evacuation. The project is part of the U. S. Department of State’s Peer-to-Peer Program, with additional support from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, North-Eastern Federal University, Northern (Arctic) Federal University, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Yakutsk-Fairbanks Sister Cities Program, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the many government agencies that spent time with us, and the people of Edeytsy and Galena.
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