In 2007, the Immediate Action Workgroup (IAW) of the Alaska Governor's Sub-Cabinet on Climate Change was established to address known threats to communities caused by coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, flooding, and fires. The IAW focused its work with the communities of Newtok, Shishmaref, Kivalina, Koyukuk, Unalakleet and Shaktoolik. The IAW completed its first phase of work in April 2008. The IAW's Recommendations Report to the Governor's Sub-Cabinet on Climate Change recommended that a suite of emergency response plans be developed for each of the six communities as the most immediate and cost-effective mechanism to reduce the risk of loss to lives and property. These plans will provide the foundation for comprehensive community planning that will consider the need for, and viability of, relocation, or other means to enhance community sustainability.
The Alaska Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs (DMVA) Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) received fiscal year 2009 funding to develop this suite of emergency response plans for the six IAW communities, including including emergency operations, community evacuation, and hazard mitigation.
Emergency response planning is especially important to the Newtok community during the relocation planning and actual relocation process. Severe erosion of the north bank of the Ninglick River has removed an important land buffer and has rendered the village more vulnerable to storm surge and flooding of the Ninglick River during coastal storms. The purpose of emergency response planning is to ensure that the community is prepared to respond in the event of a natural disaster.
(Above and below) Flood waters in the village following the September 22, 2005 storm. Photo: Stanley Tom
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development