Friday, May 8, 2009

The State's Response to the Yukon and Kuskokwim Flooding

Governments exist to respond to such things as floods. This spring's ice-jam flooding on the Yukon River, of Eagle, Alaska has been catastrophic. As the ice jam surge moves down river during continuing warmth and sunshine, more communities are at risk.

The Kuskokwim River flooding may not end up being catastrophic, but it is quite serious.

As agencies do what they are supposed to in reaction, some are asking questions like:

1) Is the degree of burden put upon the Alaska National Guard by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seriously diminishing these state-owned assets in their ability to perform their vital mission of assisting communities that have suffered or are in the track of flooding?

2) Did the state perform full duty in evaluating the probable impact of the heat wave that struck interior Alaska over two weeks ago, on top of thick river ice packs and snow packs?

3) Have the reductions in experienced reporters at Alaska media outlets this past year reduced those organs' basic ability to evaluate preparations and responses to the flooding?

There are other questions too. The local person to whom my heart goes out to the most on building community awareness on this has been Mr. Whitekeys (his comments start at 5 minutes on this APRN report). Our Alaska bloggers, who were central to educating Alaskans and Outsiders on the food and fuel crisis on these same rivers in mid-winter, have been notably absent on this subject. This blog included.

Gov. Palin cancelled East Coast appearances this week, once the reality of the extent of this disaster started becoming apparent. Watching her TV appearances at flood sites this evening, she struck me as actually being concerned and engaged.

How ready are Alaskans to assess our current Governor's role in preparation and response to this event without cluttering up the dialogue with the baggage her new national stature carries with it? I'm not at all sure. Do note, though, that the Governor's name leads the header of both of the news coverage YouTubes above.

A big turning point in my Alaska political education was watching Gov. Steve Cowper deal with the Exxon Valdez catastrophe so pathetically. Before Good Friday 1989 Cowper had been one of big oil's biggest, cushiest doormats.

He still is. But when the spill occurred, he was all over the media, trying to paint a picture of himself as something he certainly was not.

We'll see how Sarah does.


onejrkitty said...

THis is OT but I dont know how else to get to Phil.

Phillip I love AKM articles but I think the blog should decide what kind of blog it is and why it is and who it is for.

Obviously, it is not the serious adult political blog I feel the author's articles warrent. That is my loss. Sorry, but think of me as a female "Bill Mahr" -- I am not really interested in someone's relatives dying, being ill etc nor do I want to self censor myself because parents may be reading it with their children who are too delicate to hear fairly banal curse words.

I refuse to apologize or defend myself against the onslaughts I know will be shot my way accuringme of not being a humanitarian or of being cold to the suffering of others or unfeeling or uncaring or whatever.

Sorry, but there are millions of people in this world and suffering knows no ends. A POLITICAL BOG IS NOT THE PLACE FOR THAT KIND OF PERSONAL SHARING.

Unless of course, that is exactly the kind of blog AKM is wanting to be. Their choice and my choice is mine. I love the articles, I will never waste my time again commenting there cause posts get lost in the other stuff that is not on topic.

I love, feel, suffer, care, am compassoniate, humanistic but a political blog is not where I express those feelings. I find it hard to get "excited" about someone's death, or loss of their loved one when they are nameless figures to me.

I am not against a blog where people can form their own online "Cheers" and get to know each other over time and share the most intimate details of their lives BUT NOT UNDER A HEADING ABOUT PALIN'S ETHICS COMPLAINTS GETTING DISMISSED. GRYPHEN WILL GET 15 -20 COMMETNS ARE THEYA RE ALL WORTH READING WHILE AKM GETS HUNDREDS AND MOST ARE NOT EVEN OT--SORRY IT IS A WASTE OF MY TIME. If I want to cry over someone's death, I will read the obituaries.

I also not care that my "earlier post" was removed--CENSORSHIP-- because I called a spade a shovel with the "lonely" audience that I feel AKM is attracting. I am sure they are a "caring community" but that is all AKM will end up being and that will be unfortunate "serious adults."

Ok, my rant is over, but I am pissed and tired of dealing with people with nothing really to say and who are appearing to me to be the same as "sarapac" and "team sara" members except they are politically on "our" side.

I want a higher bar for commenters and I am pissed that I am not getting it at AKM and I TRULY REGRET THAT ! REALLY TRULY REGRET THAT!

Problem solved: I just won't read the comments anymore :)

onejrkitty said...

Ok, clarification> It is NOT unfortunate if all AKM ends up being is a caring community. Caring and Community are never bad. What got lost in my tangle of anger is that I fear this blog, which has great potential due to the writer's insight and lovely writing style will become a place less and less attractive to people who are looking for adult, serious, discussions of "the heart of darkness" issues that Palin, who I consider a truly dark and evil person, is bringing to the surface on the political stage.

The seriousness of Palin getting as far as she did --A RUN FOR VP! I STILL GO INTO SHOCK OVER THAT-- is being lost in "greeting card" caring posts. I am not looking for love online !

There is a time and a place.

I have assumed AKM was for far more serious discussion.

I was wrong.

My loss.

So I skip the 200-300 comments and have more time for my own life.

I think it is a misuse of a good talent. I have been very badly damaged in my own "trail breaking" life and I hoped AKM would be someplace I could go and turns out it is not. It is Vanilla and I am Spumoni.

Where is Bill Mahr when I need him. He could express me far better than I am doing.

onejrkitty said...

Ok, this is really my last post tonight. I promise.
When I was in San Francisco, my friend Marily was Lenny Bruce's secretary ( and lover) when he died. I met Lenny in her kitchen with Marilyn's 3 yr old Katie on his knee.

That, and being a pilot, 4 letter words come easily to me.

How can I slap my cards on the table in a post, if some child is going to be reading it LOL LOL

I simply cannot and will not get upset over bull and feces or you know whatie or whatever and I don't spell god with a capital G either ! So there !

My Bad :)

Philip Munger said...

hang in there, onejrkitty.

nobody gave any of us, including AKM, a guide to this wonderful new labyrinth of public discussion.

but we're not making the truth up as we go. just some of the rules for discussion.

we're just trying to get the truth out to a lot of people who have been devastated by the falsehoods that surround them.

womanwithsardinecan said...

I guess I missed some drama over at the Mudflats. My response to this explanation here, as a longtime Mudpuppy, is that AKM's blog IS a serious political blog that never leaves the humor and humanity out of the subject. I personally don't think the blog should be all about the discussion in the comments section. The point is what AKM brings to the table, and everybody else's contributions are somewhat secondary. That said, the Mudflats comments are about the only ones I can tolerate on the internet (I do enjoy them here and at Gryphen's place and Diva's place too) because polite discourse is the number one rule, which can't be said of most comment sections around the web, especially on "serious political blogs." And I like the community aspect. For personal reasons that have nothing to do with Mudflats, I don't go to the forum, but I've heard that there are plenty of threads there where people can have serious discussions about the issues that AKM brings up.
Perhaps if you have so much to say, and feel constricted by the rules at a place like Mudflats, maybe it is time to start your own blog. Not trying to pick a fight here, just pointing out some stuff from a different perspective.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna jump in here too. There's a difference in having a strong opinion about how something should be done and attacking others with a different opinion. At some point in the latest which thread/ what topic discussion, it suddenly seemed to become very personal. Having had a lifetime of abuse, I don't stick around for it (even when it is directed at others - lynnrockets - I miss you). For the most part, AKM has provided a fairly nice balance of political/personal. Not sure how it turned so personal. But, it was enough for me to go back to lurk mode.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading some of the comments that have been making their way here from the Mudflats "controversy," and I feel the same way. I have been there since August, and the degree of censorship and regulation has never been so intense - even during a very ugly period shortly after the election (during which time a long-standing member was banned simply for stating an opinion). I don't get it. If an innocuous word like "bullshit" warrants chastisement, then we've really gone too far. If anyone would like to carry on this conversation via e-mail, please let me know and I'll try to figure out a way to send by personal e-mail to you. I'm very upset by all of this, and I think that the blog is already suffering the effects. Phil - sorry to use your blog for my comment, but I risk being banned if I state this opinion on the 'Flats.

Anonymous said...

It is cool that folks can read the blog with their kids. I'm all for raising kids with political savvy, but it would be nice to have a political blog ala the flats where we don't have to censor for the kiddies. It isn't very comfortable over there anymore. And that's a shame when 'bad words' hit the spam barrel but personal attacks are left sitting there. And where oh where is lynnrockets? I think she got a raw deal.

womanwithsardinecan said...

There is no spam filter for personal attacks, and AKM and Snoskred can't be there every minute. I don't get the big deal about "bad words." There are many written venues where they are simply not appropriate, and Bull**** is just as effective as the real thing. Everybody knows what it is, and it passes the spam filter. So we all slip now and then. Again, no big deal, clean up crew on aisle 5. When I was teaching college students, I had to tell a few of them to stop sprinkling their oral presentations with such words, not because the students hadn't heard them, but because it was not appropriate. I'm just feeling all mountain/molehill here. I haven't seen any more censorship than previously over at Mudflats, other than periodic reminders to stay on topic, which the daily open thread is helping with in a positive way.
I actually left Mudflats for a while, not for any of these reasons, but because I couldn't take a daily dose of "serious" and Palin was making me depressed. It is often the poems, songs, and community horseplay that keeps me from feeling that way. I'm perfectly happy to have a place to play that is still right in the thick of things but not disruptive for the people who like the topic to flow. It's like two sandboxes side by side. Here, need a shovel? *tosses one to the other sandbox*

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

There is more censorship there Now!
Do you know you can't even write c4p in a PM without it getting changed?
Now that's censorship.
To anon. I might be interested in a email exchange about this.
I have found my self commenting more and more on Phil's, Gryphen, Regina, Shannyn's blog more b/c of it.
And I do miss LynnRocetts, she got a raw deal... :(

womanwithsardinecan said...

PM? As in personal message? Those are on the forum. I don't know what the censorship is like there because I don't go there. I think this stuff is more appropriate for email, to avoid lines being drawn in the mud.
I do think that it is not fair or polite of us to come over here and hijack Phil's blog post with our comments about Mudflats, but since I was the first one to respond, I don't have a leg to stand on. Sorry Phil. I'm done.

basheert said...

Hey guys I must be coming late to this dance because I have NO clue what dustup on AKM you are referring to.

And WHAT happened to Lynrockets? I loved her song writing.

Sorry to hijack your blog Phil but a lot of us would love to chatter but we don't have private emails to take it off of here.

I never actually thought of a blog as a place to "share" with my children other than those cool Brian pics.

Can Phil figure out some way - perhaps he can hook us up via him? When I contacted CrystalWolfe Regina was kind enough to send each of us the other's email and we've become close personal friends.

I take breaks from the blogs as well. I like this blog because it appears to be relevant to a lot of different Alaska issues, not just Palin. A daily dose of Palin is pretty overwhelming - and I too fear that people don't recognize just how dangerous a person she is.

But this blog is great for what I see as "real" stuff and I like this one a lot. AKM is fun but it is getting a bit snippy with some people for me. I realize they have tons of traffic, but it's like the thought-police. You cannot use C4P for example - (isn't that who they are????) -

Anytime you have a volatile person in a political office that is running amuck, there will be controversy.

That's why I like it here...

Phil would you be willing to hook us up with each other's emails if others were willing? (SORRY)

basheert said...

Onejrkitty: I must admit though,you screen name is intriguing.

I'm sorry you got a raw deal at AKM - and I do agree about the censorship. But AKM IS the messenger. The comments are simply out of her control.

I always enjoy your comments, especially on Regina's blog.

Anonymous said...

Funny - I came to see what people had to say about Phil's post:-)

Guess instead we got an update of what is going on at MF. Read there some, missed the upset so can't speak to it.

On Yukon and the lack of info. Couple of things; it happened quick and cut people off even more so from communicating, not the same as this winter and the food/fuel issue, I did not see a lack of caring, just a lack of news and how to react.

Overall the blogs have helped people realize there was an issue.

People were asking, in comments, what if anything people had heard.
IF there had been a call to arms I feel people would be there in an instant.

On SP and her role---is it to watched.

At least she is doing the much needed things of declaring an emergency and freeing up resources to help.

On her grandstanding, if it turns out to be that, we can hope to keep the important things front and center.

As the ADN and other new media gets less in its ability to cover first hand news society will have to learn how to fill the gap.

Blogs might well be that way.
Rose R

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

This was just posted on mudflats re: flooding
tigerwine Says:
May 9th, 2009 at 9:04 AM

Just talked to my daughter-in-law, and, indeed, my son has been out in Eagle. He is returning tonight and will call. She said the store, medical clinic, and several other buildings and homes not on high ground have been lost. Ice as big as houses was floating by. Will pass on anything I hear later on from Yukonbushgrma.
So its a very serious situation out there.

CabinDweller said...

While the bloggers haven't gotten on the flood the way they did the Emmonak area situation, the response from the Fairbanks community has been huge. Everts Air was flying in goods to Eagle, and was so overwhelmed by the response. They had a backlog of things to go out there.

And, one small beef with progressive bloggers (myself included) - other villages suffered this winter with the high fuel prices, some even ran out of fuel this winter. But no one raised a hue and cry. (Then again, they've been suffering for the last several years with prices ranging between $8 - $14 a gallon.) They were rationing gas and fuel oil after an emergency shipment to Noatak in December, to name just one.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Cabindweller: I hear you...but you have to understand someone has to speak up, or no one will know! Nick Tucker spoke up about Emmonak! Ann Strongheart about Nuam aqa (sp) So someone needs to sound the alarm!

Mark said...

The Tripod fell here in Bethel (on the Kuskokwim River) overnight and the water looked to me this morning to be dropping below bank-full.
The flooding in our villages out here is fairly normal, no real disasters have been reported. Aniak always gets wet in the springtime.
Up on the Yukon, the Eagle flood really is something for the recordbooks. Although the community apparently had some flood protection (a levee) there is no stoppin ghte Yukon when it decides to go wherever the heck it wants.
Note that Eagle Village made the wise decision how many years ago to move to higher ground.
As far as response goes, the State Division of Emergency Services starts in very early spring to prepare for breakup. They have a wide public education program to remind people along Alaska's rivers about flood potential. They start river surveillance as soon as weather warms up. All the pieces are in place for early warning of flooding and resources are always available for evacuation and post-flood response.
A BIG shoutout to Fairbanks and everyone else responding to Eagle (which, we should also recall has a resident "high-resource" federal agency - the NPS - which had a helicopter available to perform some evacuation/rescues.
I also see this morning that Beaver is being evacuated.

Anonymous said...

As it's poor form to push one's own blog -
Cabin Dweller- please scout around and come visit some of the places on the AK "tubes" where we have been looking for voices. We cannot be a megaphone to silence but we can magnify voices... We NEED those voices- yours too.
Mark- good to hear Bethel is looking to do ok. Whew. And yes , on the State folks working to be ready for spring. They work hard at it. Information via news is the lagger... not enough info getting out in coherent way ...
Noticeable silence by AK progressive bloggers is real. AKM has provided some basic info...
Some of the rest of us are doing the behind-the-scenes slamming into each other in the dark, scurrying around ,getting balled up in the wing curtains routine trying to get info...

Thank heavens the Red Cross is up and rolling to gather supplies and NPS was right there for Eagle.

Anonymous said...

We have a post up about the flooding crisis at Anonymous Bloggers. We're urging people to leave suggestions on ways we can help.


Could you repost the information about your daughter-in-law's situation and then keep us updated.

And it's true that someone has to speak up from within. We tried calling a few other villages, told them what we were doing for Ann and asked them if they needed help. All said they would bring it up at Tribal Council and none got back to us.


basheert said...

Thanks to all of you for keeping us posted on the flooding - I know all of us are concerned - we've helped some of the other villages but unless we have an avenue or somehow hear about these things, we are totally unaware. Not everyone visits Alaska blogs but please know all of you, that we in the Lower 48 do care and let us know if we can help in some way!
The advent of the blogs and increased traffic over a relatively short period of time has made many of us more aware of your local politics and some of the conditions your residents face.
Please keep us posted?
And Phil, thanks for letting us keep talkin'

(The flooding is very hard for me to visualize on a personal basis. It is currently 105 degrees in the middle of my desert and I have forgotten how to even spell the word RAIN. On the other hand, I am the proud owner for a 7.5Kw solar system on my home!)

basheert said...

Jane, could you PLEASE repost the link for Anonymous Bloggers?


Philip Munger said...

Mark Springer,

Thanks for the information!

basheert said...

Philip: Thanks for allowing the cross talk - I think I speak for all of us in saying thanks.

Mark S: As Philip says, thanks so much for your post.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Hi Jane,
It was
May 9th, 2009 at 9:04 AM
at the mudflats, I was just reposting here post here on Phils blog...sorry for the confusion, check there or if I see more from her will post her.
Again sorry.

the problem child said...

I'm not Jane, but the website is

basheert said...

Thanks so much...thought I had it but evidently it did not save in my bookmarks.

Snowing in Alaska said...

Hi Phil, wow you must be feeling like a favorite neighborhood bartender by now with all this stuff going on!

I have a problem with the first rant here because 1) Phil's email contact info is clearly visible on the main page, 2) If you have a problem with Mudflats and the blogger, then you shouldn't be complaining over here - contact the blogger directly! I didn't really care about seeing Mudflats criticized in that way, and like the woman with sardine can, I believe these can be worked out in emails and not publicly hashed out, 3)it's truly hijacking this blog and comments which is rude (I hope you forgive us, because now I'm doing it, too! 4) the rant was snotty.

Anyway - Phil, you have become a regular stopping place for so many now. It's so cool the way you all do your blogs, I love Mudflats, Celtic Diva and Immoral Minority, too. Thank you for your hard work!

Anonymous said...

oh- an Anony B back again here...
Phil- re your number 3 -
Have no idea whether cutbacks at media outlets have reduced their ability to respond adequately to situations like the current flooding- partly because I'm not sure they ever did do a decent job at that.
Am deeply concerned that not nearly enough basic, practical information is coming out of the flood zones for anyone to have a clear idea what's up.Folks in the flood zones have a lot of ways of staying up on the haps as it affects them but the rest of us are kinda sitting out here in the dark.

We are lucky to have the kind of prep and planning that goes on each spring and hopefully we will find out how well it all worked when things settle down in a few weeks so any tweaking necessary can be done.

Anonymous said...

Our Alaska bloggers, who were central to educating Alaskans and Outsiders on the food and fuel crisis on these same rivers in mid-winter, have been notably absent on this subject. This blog included.Unfortunately, this seems to illustrate the power of Sarah Palin-- she was more associated with this year's episode of food vs fuel (there were previous crises in 2007-2008) than erosion and preparedness.

And after 3 years of posts about erosion and preparedness and our state's poor record of action, some bloggers are discouraged.

(Murkowski's "efforts" are simply carried forward by the current governor. e.g., Would you trust official information from the state's lead agency, given by a website with dot com in its name? Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

How about an official state/tribal pass to a non-existent shelter?

Or why, given the millions of dollars going for regional health corps, it is the national guard that has to airlift maintenance prescription medicine to elders who don't have evacuation packs for the annual flooding?)

The Unorganized Borough can’t wait for others to prepare for us. Why? Track the entries at The Voices of New Orleans, Katrina’s saga

Amy Jones said...

Hi - Just want to say, I agree with Snowing in Alaska - and there was info on the flood on Mudflats with photos, etc, btw. Yes there could be more info out there, very important issue and glad you are discussing the coverage, blogwise and elsewhere - I understand lynnrockets now has her own blog (hooray) where she can give full voice to her talents for those who are interested in her songs.