Federal resources on the way in search for missing Nome woman

A red building under gray skies has several police SUVs parked out front.
The Nome Volunteer Fire Department is headquarters for the search and rescue effort for Florence Okpealuk. (Emily Russell/KNOM 2016).

Local authorities in Nome are looking for all of the help they can get as they search for Florence Okpealuk, including from Alaska’s new office dedicated to solving cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous people.

“They basically transfer us to other federal agencies that can assist us right now,” said Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman.

RELATED: BIA opens Anchorage office to investigate cold cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people

The MMIP Coordinator for Alaska, Ingrid Cumberlidge, would not comment on this investigation.

While Manager Steckman hasn’t worked directly with Cumberlidge’s office, he says that it has already opened up more resources for Nome’s search.

“We are expecting some additional help from the FBI with people on the ground and possibly search dogs that we have requested,” said Steckman.

Steckman said that so far local efforts have included the use of underwater drones in nearby ponds, local search dogs and the Coast Guard helicopter, along with Nome Police Department, the Alaska State Troopers, and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation.

He said local authorities can’t say much regarding an open investigation.

“Every lead that the public has given to the Nome Police Department has been followed up. Leads are continuing to come in and that’s all that we can discuss,” he said.

Okpealuk’s family reported her missing on Aug. 31. The missing persons bulletin from the Alaska State Troopers says she was last seen coming out of tent on Nome’s West Beach approximately one to two miles outside of town. Her jacket and shoes were left outside the tent.

The Nome Police Department did not return KNOM’s calls for comment for this story.

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