Day 5: Details on Volunteer Efforts to Find Florence Okpealuk of Nome

A community search for a missing Nome woman will begin Saturday at noon.

Anyone interested in joining search efforts for 33 year-old Florence Okpealuk can meet at the Nome Fire Hall on Bering Street at 12pm tomorrow to be briefed on the plan. All volunteers are asked to dress appropriately for the weather and observe social distancing.

Okpealuk was last seen on Sunday afternoon around 4pm on Nome’s West Beach.

Nome Volunteer Fire Department (NVFD) Search and Rescue Chief Jim West Jr. thinks he will probably have searchers do a grid search of the area past where Okpealuk was last seen.

“You line up in a straight line and say if you go from north to south and then you start walking within three feet of each other and then combing the area.”

– Jim West Jr.

Nome SAR has been searching since Tuesday and West says they’ve been using all of the search capabilities available to them: including an air search from the Alaska State Troopers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Nome’s own underwater rover.

“We have currently deployed our underwater rover into a close-by pond where she might have been seen, eliminating that aspect.”

– Jim West Jr.

Some Nome community members have already started their own searches for Florence Okpealuk as well.

Nome’s Deputy Police Chief Bob Pruckner couldn’t confirm any more details about the current status of the investigation, other than what has already been reported. That includes what Florence was wearing or if anyone was with her when she was last seen.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is encouraged to contact NPD at 443-5262.

Image at top: Florence Okpealuk of Nome, who Nome Police are actively searching for. Photo from Nome Police Department, used with permission (2020).