Kivalina and Chukchi Coast Communities Prepped for Flooding, Erosion, Possible Evacuation

Coastal communities along the Chukchi Sea, including Kivalina, are preparing for flooding and major erosion. The National Weather Service recently issued a coastal flood warning for Kivalina, Shishmaref, and Point Hope, which is in effect until 6pm Wednesday evening.

According to staff with the Kivalina city office, Kivalina’s Search and Rescue team is preparing for possibly evacuating the community. The local SAR team instructed Kivalina’s water plant operator Joseph Jr. Swan to prepare the heavy equipment for operation. Swan was clearing snow from the streets using two vehicles on Tuesday as a precautionary measure in case water does flood the area.

One Kivalina resident says if evacuation becomes necessary, then all willing members will be brought to the school, and those who choose to can remain in their homes. However, school personnel do not have enough water available, which means water will have to be hauled to the building using 33-gallon garbage cans.

According to the National Weather Service’s forecasts, this current storm could cause waters to rise four to six feet higher than the normal tide line, as the wind will be coming from the Southwest directly towards the beach of Kivalina.

NWS’s coastal flood warning for the Chukchi Sea Coast communities has been in effect since 3:40am Wednesday morning.

Image at top: Arctic waters seen from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy. Photo: NASA Goddard Center.