Yurok Tribal Council issues emergency declaration

Deluge damages Tribal infrastructure, puts reservation residents at risk

Yesterday, the Yurok Tribal Council held a special meeting to declare a State of Emergency in response to the recent storms, which have dumped more than a half foot of rain on the reservation in just a few days.

“We are contending with multiple, storm-related crises right now, including landslides and community water system failures,” said Frankie Myers, the Yurok Tribe’s Vice Chairman. “The Tribal Council issued this declaration to formally activate the Tribe’s emergency response protocol, which calls for a coordinated effort to promptly address these urgent issues.” 

Yurok Deluge
Massive rainfall amounts and runoff triggered a large landslide that closed Dowd Road, a critical emergency evacuation route for Yurok reservation residents.(Photo: Yurok Tribe)

In the past week, the protracted precipitation event spurred a large landslide that closed Dowd Road, a critical emergency evacuation route for residents from Wautec to Willow Creek. The massive rainfall amounts and runoff has also impaired all upriver, Tribal community water systems. 

Presently, a Tribal crew is working with a contractor to fix the water systems. There is a separate group of Tribal staff removing debris from Dowd Rd, but it will take some time to clear. The Tribe will keep the community updated as work progresses. There is additional, but less urgent infrastructure damage throughout the reservation. 

“We are prioritizing the problems that pose the biggest risk to the community. We have all hands on deck working to resolve each predicament as quickly as possible,” Vice Chairman Myer said. 

The portion of the reservation where much of the rain-related troubles have occurred is in Humboldt County. On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for 21 counties across the state, including Humboldt. Additionally, on the Del Norte County side of the reservation, two landslides have intermittently closed US Highway 101. The highway is currently open to one-way controlled traffic. 

The Yurok Office of Emergency Services reminds residents to remain prepared for potential inclement weather-related challenges, such as road failures, power outages and communication issues. This includes having the following: food (for you and your pets), drinking water, necessary medications, flashlights, batteries, and a reliable heat source. “These events offer an opportunity to learn how to become better prepared for future situations,” said Dean Baker, Emergency Manager for the Yurok Tribe.

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