Reducing socioeconomic impacts of breakup floods in rural Arctic communities through effective multi-agency disaster communication and coordination strategies (1)

Lead Author Yekaterina, Kontar
Institution Contact International Arctic Research Center University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 USA
Co-Authors Viktoriya Filippova, Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, SB RAS, Russia Antonina Savvinova, North-Eastern Federal University, Russia Tuyara Gavrileva, 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 04:00 PM - 04:15 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text The villages of Edeytsy in Sakha Republic, Russia and Galena in Alaska, United States suffered severe negative socioeconomic impacts after breakup floods on the Lena and Yukon Rivers in May 2013. Over 90 percent of the entire public infrastructure and private residences were destroyed in both communities. As a result, many families lost not only their shelter, but also means of their livelihoods, and were forced into long-term evacuation. We surveyed the impacted populations and conducted a series of roundtable discussions with representatives from local, regional, state, federal, and tribal administrations, with the goal to determine the effectiveness of the annual flood risk reduction strategies in both regions. There are many similarities between how the people and government authorities in the two regions prepare for and respond to floods, but also many differences. Some of the differences arise because of different systems of governance, but others are because Russia has more people and area at risk to this hazard and therefore more experience in managing it. Emotional impacts, conveyed by pictures that transcend language barriers, come from loss of valued possessions, loss of animals, extended separation from home, the unpleasant task of cleaning up polluted flood deposits and debris, and the question of relocation. Interest in the latter wanes as recovery proceeds. It is clear that ongoing, multi-way communication, which takes into account cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic characteristics and respective roles of all stakeholders, is crucial for effective flood risk reduction in rural Arctic regions.
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