Ice from the Yukon River encroaches on the town of Eagle, Alaska, on Friday, May 17. NPS photo by Pat Sanders.

Experienced UMVIM volunteers needed thru September  – UPDATE follows

By Jim Truitt, PNW UMVIM Disaster Response Coordinator, and Kathy Bryson, Early Response Team member

Huge ice flows cascaded down the Yukon River in late May jamming up river bends and causing massive ice dams and flooding across the tundra and into the villages along the river. Homes in Alakanak, Emmonak, Galena, Ft. Yukon, Circle and Tok were heavily damaged by the fast moving water and huge blocks of ice. By early June, the Alaskan Governor declared the flooding a disaster leading to a Presidential Declaration for Individual Assistance and engaging FEMA with the process of recovery.

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The timeframe left for recovery of the damaged homes before winter sets in is very short.  Transportation to the villages and the ability to barge supplies up the Yukon River becomes very difficult after the first of October. Barges that bring in supplies and living essentials quit making the trip in mid- to late-September. Volunteers willing to quickly come together in recovery teams can expect to be securing and rebuilding homes into a livable condition so families can move back in before winter.

Because of the need for experienced volunteers, a small recovery window and the remote location, FEMA has agreed to provide round trip airfare from the volunteer’s home airport to Anchorage and the charter flights to and from the duty site.  FEMA is also providing base camp lodging, food, tools, equipment, and the required building supplies for volunteers willing to commit to working on site for at least two weeks. The travel expense and short working time dictate the need for skilled and experienced volunteers. The target date for the first teams on site is August 10th.

Faith-based organizations have always been a key participant in the recovery from any disaster and this one is no exception. Members of the Mennonite Disaster Service, Samaritans Purse, World Renew (formerly CRWRC), and The United Methodist Church have had teams in the Yukon River area villages assessing the damage and determining what they can do to assist in the recovery. Collectively, these groups believe they can make a significant contribution to the recovery effort as they have many times before.

The Pacific Northwest and Alaska United Methodist Conferences are committed to partnering with these faith-based organizations to help the villagers recover from this disaster and invite other Methodist Conferences and faith-based organizations to join us. We encourage you to prayerfully discern your willingness and ability to join others in this service to those in need of our help. For further information or to volunteer, please contact Jim Truitt,, (253) 630-1268 (H), or (253) 797-1680 (C) as soon as possible.


The process of recruiting volunteer in mission (VIM) teams to go to Galena, AK is well under way. The first team of volunteers will leave this Saturday for Fairbanks and fly to Galena on Sunday for two weeks of sharing their skills and talents. Beginning Aug 19th, teams will fly to Fairbanks on Monday and then to Galena on Tuesday for two weeks. This rotation will continue through the end of September.

The response has been very gratifying. We have volunteers coming from all over the US to participate.

There are still slots open on most of the teams through the end of September. I encourage you to prayerfully discern your willingness and ability to join others in this service to those in need of our help. For further information or to volunteer, please contact me at, (253) 630-1268 (H), or (253) 797-1680 (C) as soon as possible.

Blessing to you all,


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