Nome, Alaska — The community of Nome continues to exhaust all options in the search and rescue effort to find Joseph Balderas.
Balderas was reported missing Monday morning and is thought to have gone hiking about 40 miles east of Nome.
Search efforts have been extensive. Yesterday, there were three helicopters in the air and dozens of ATVs on the ground. A dog team arrived from Fairbanks today, making it one of the largest search and rescue operations Nome has seen in decades.
But all of this is expensive.
Jim West, Jr., is Nome’s fire chief and said troopers are funding the operation right now, but he doesn’t expect that to last much longer.
“Sooner or later, that decision has to be made when to pull the plug, as far as funding goes,” West said.
West says that, in the next day or two, state funding may dry up. That’s why Nome residents Reba Lean and Brodie Kimmel organized a fundraising page on the site YouCaring in Balderas’s behalf. Kimmel says it’s a way to keep people updated.
“Joseph has a huge network of friends and family across the country who want to support the search efforts in any way,” Kimmel explained.
The site aims to raise $30,000. As of 5pm Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the site went live, donors had contributed around $26,000; by Thursday morning, pledges had exceeded $35,000. Reba Lean added it’s not just money they need.
“If anybody out there has airline miles, housing, transportation, or anything else that would be helpful, they can contact us on the Facebook page,” Lean said.
Any funds collected on the fundraising page will be donated to the local search and rescue team.
If you have any information on Joseph Balderas’s whereabouts, contact the Nome Fire Department at (907) 443-2310.