After the Floods in Alaska

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The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s Disaster Response Service (DRS) is rarely called to Alaska.

However, when the U. S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) needed help to rebuild 23 homes destroyed by spring floods in the town of Tanana, DRS stepped in.

“Once [flood waters] came over the roads, there was no way out,” said Kathy Roberts, a resident of the tiny village on the Yukon River. Residents were flown by charter to Fairbanks.

Teams had about 60 days to rebuild, said Jay DeBoer, DRS regional manager. Planned completion was the end of September because “winter comes early in Tanana,” DeBoer said. Houses had to be leveled, squared up, and cleaned out. Electricians found and rectified problems, said volunteer Ken Westveer.

Construction supervisor Mike Tigchelaar and coordinator Arnie Gustafso directed 63 people on five volunteer teams who traveled from Ontario, Michigan, British Columbia, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Alberta, and Washington.

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