Emergency Declaration Extended in Alaska Borough for Flooding

December 31, 2019

An emergency declaration was extended in an Alaska borough where residents were forced to evacuate when an ice jam caused a creek to flood, official said.

Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly members met with state officials Saturday to discuss options to deal with flooding that began in Willow a week earlier, KTUU-TV reported.

Residents near the Willow Creek and Deneki Road areas were evacuated the night of Dec. 21-22 when a large chunk of ice jammed at the Deneki bridge and caused upstream flooding. No injuries were reported.

Representatives from the state emergency services and public works departments laid out a possible timeline and recovery plan Saturday, but said there are variables in the estimates.

Emergency workers regained vehicle access Saturday to Deneki Bridge, where the flooding is centered in the community located about a 70-mile drive north of Anchorage.

The next step involves diverting the water flow south to a swamp, officials said.

The team working to reduce the flooding was waiting for state permits to begin using an excavator to divert the water, civil engineer Dave Lundin said.

Lundin predicted the permitting process would be complete by the middle of the week.

“We just need to talk to the agencies and make sure we’re not tripping on our own feet and creating an issue with them by doing something that they’re going to fine the borough for,” Lundin said.

Borough officials did not immediately receive a reply to their request to the office of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy to join the emergency declaration or order Alaska National Guard units to assist.

The governor makes emergency declarations based on recommendations from the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said Todd Smoldon, director of the governor’s Matanuska-Susitna office.

“There continues to be access, and there continues to be no life or health or safety issues,” Smoldon said. “Given that, that is why the DMVA has not recommended to the governor that there be an emergency declaration.”

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