Borough declares emergency in fall flooding
On Tuesday, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre signed a local disaster emergency declaration due to the unseasonably heavy rain and elevated ground water that have resulted in the flooding of many homes, properties and roads throughout the Kenai Peninsula Borough, according to a borough news release. One of the primary areas affected includes numerous subdivisions covering approximately 6,000 acres adjacent to Kalifornsky Beach Road, from Mile 11 to Mile 16.
The declaration has been sent to the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which will be reviewed and forwarded to Gov. Sean Parnell for consideration. If approved, the disaster declaration could open the door to governmental funding to address damages caused by the flooding.
On Monday, the borough issued a warning to use extreme caution when driving in neighborhoods adjacent to Kalifornsky Beach Road, from Mile 11 to 14, where roads, culverts and ditches are covered in standing water. Access should be limited only to four-wheel-drive or ATV vehicles when necessary. Never drive in conditions beyond the limits of visibility, including standing water where the depths are unknown, according the borough. The following roads are listed as having dangerous standing water conditions: Bore Tide, Kalgin, Ebb Tide, Karluk, Buoy, Green Forest, Bore Tide Court, Eider, Patrick, Eastway, Seabiscuit, Skiff Court, Trawling, Dogfish and Westway off of Karluk.
For more information on this road hazard warning, and on dealing with flooding, visit the borough Office of Emergency Management online at www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency-mgmt.
By Jenny Neyman
The depressing reality for residents dealing with flooding this fall along sections of Kalifornsky Beach Road is that there’s isn’t much they can do to address the situation but keep on keeping on, holding out the rapidly diminishing hope that the high water table saturating the ground and wreaking havoc on homes and roads recedes before winter’s freezing temperatures set in.
Within the last six weeks that the water table has risen, the situation has gone from bad — with roads, basements and crawl spaces flooding — to worse — with septic systems failing and all the potential health risks posed by swamped leach fields near water wells — to ridiculous over the weekend as a storm dumped inches of rain into the already saturated neighborhoods and surrounding wetlands area.
“It’s laughable. I mean, it’s not funny, but it is funny, because what else can you do but laugh? Seriously, what can you do?” said Tammy Vollom-Matturro, of Karluk Avenue, on Monday, pondering how she was going to get her two daughters home from the bus stop that afternoon through the river that had become the road and the lake that had overtaken her driveway.
“I didn’t even get to the end of my driveway and the water was over my boots. I hadn’t even hit the road yet. So I’m thinking, ‘There is no way that my daughters would get to the front door today if I wasn’t home.’ Usually they walk home from the bus stop,” she said.
Not Monday. Instead, she would drive from her house through the bumper-deep water to her neighbor’s higher driveway across the street, then navigate carefully up the road to the bus stop, taking extra caution to avoid the now-invisible flooded ditches on the sides of the road that a road crew from the Kenai Peninsula Borough had recently put in.
“The problem is they dug these ditches really, really deep on Karluk and now that the water’s flooding the road you have no idea where those ditches are. I guarantee they’ll be pulling someone out because you can’t see where the road ends and that ditch begins,” Vollom-Matturro said.