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.