Elim was awarded a $50,000 State Fiscal Year 2011 Hazard Impact Assessment grant to identify and define the climate change-related hazards in the community, establish current and predicted
impacts, and provide recommendations on alternatives to mitigate the hazard impacts.
Elim is located on the northwest shore of Norton Bay on the Seward Peninsula, 96 miles east of Nome. It lies 460 miles northwest of Anchorage. The community is incorporated as a 2nd class city in the unorganized borough. The shoreline in Elim is used for boat and barge access, fishing, hunting, processing catch, beachcombing, cultural and social events, and driftwood collecting.
Elim experiences storm surges, wind-driven waves, and periodic flooding which contribute to periodic coastal erosion. Most erosion occurs where the shore is at its lowest elevation in an reach of about 800 feet along the coast and inland to an estimated 50 feet above the high water line. The lower areas along Elim Creek are subject to storm surge flooding and erosion. Major storm surges in 1974, 1992, 2004, and 2005 induced floods with associated erosion. The community has identified the primary erosion area as being along the town front with all beach sand eroded away leaving a rocky beach where a lost of 1-2 feet of shore has occurred over the past few years and estimated need to relocate several homes in the next 10-20 years.
The eroding shoreline area is estimated to be less than 100 feet from 4 residences. Storm surges often reach and surround those structures. The Elim Native store shed, a water main that crosses the bridge over Elim Creek, drying racks and smoke houses, Beach Road, a bridge, and some sanitary sewer lines also are threatened by erosion. Damages associated with the 2004 storm surge totaled $6,900. The 2005 event damaged the main access bridge and septic lines along the coast, resulting in $34,000 for repairs which were reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The repairs included elevating the structures an estimated 5 feet and protection with rip rap. The city administrator expects these measures will help reduce further erosion damage. Six subsistence use cabins were also destroyed or damaged by the 2005 storm. In addition, the community had to replace fuel headers at the barge landing.
Elim Beach Road during October 2004 storm. Photo: USACE
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development