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(GALENA, Alaska) — A remote Alaska town is being overrun by major flooding caused by a 30-mile ice jam on the Yukon River.

The problems for Galena, Alaska, began when the ice jam developed at a choke point upstream where the Yukon bends.

“It is like having a glacier advance at you at six miles-per-hour,” said John Madden, director of the Alaska Division of the Homeland Security and Emergency Services.  “That’s a lot of momentum and when it hits a structure. The ice will always win.”

Nearly 300 of Galena’s 500 residents have been evacuated by air.  Pictures of the town show a 30-mile wall of the frozen Yukon River pushing over its banks and into homes.

The result of the ice jam is not just flooding but also something emergency officials call “ballistic ice,” chunks the size of office desks.

“With the ice, you can have something locally form and start flooding instantaneously,” said National Weather Service hydrologist Ed Plumb.

The flooding will clear when the ice jam breaks, but forecasters say it is unclear when that will occur.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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