2016 ended with a Bering Sea storm that brought snow, ocean surges and strong winds to many communities in Western Alaska.


St. Lawrence Island was at risk of coastal flooding from the storm, but according to a city employee in Gambell, both communities on the island did not experience the same amount of damage.


Curtis Siloop, the mayor of Gambell, said residents were ready for the storm and had prepared sandbags to prevent potential flood damage, so only a few buildings experienced minor damage from the storm. According to the mayor, cell phone service and phone lines went down, but the community’s power remained on throughout the weekend.


In the community of Savoonga, phone lines were down Tuesday and KNOM was unable to make contact with the city office. Siloop reported that roofs of buildings in Savoonga were blown off and debris was swept through the community by intense winds gusting up to 75 mph at times.


The total extent of the damage done to Savoonga is still unclear, but Siloop said agents from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are expected to visit the community this week to do an assessment.


This story originates from KNOM Radio Mission and was published with permission.