Talkeetna Sees Evacuations As Southcentral Flooding Continues
4:13 p.m. AKDT, September 21, 2012
Talkeetna officials called for evacuations in the face of major flooding Friday, the most serious crisis in a day that saw the city of Seward recovering from Thursday flooding, Matanuska River waters rising in Butte and the Kenai Peninsula Borough declaring a state of emergency.
The evacuations in Talkeetna were requested after as a dike protecting the town failed Friday morning; they were initially mandatory, with people barred from entering town, but became voluntary shortly before 2 p.m. At least 35 percent of the town is under some kind of water coverage with East Talkeetna flooded, and Gov. Sean Parnell is scheduled to fly into town to see the flood damage firsthand during a tour of the Mat-Su Valley.
Alaska Floods: All Talkeetna Residents Requested to Evacuate Alaska Floods: All Talkeetna Residents Requested to Evacuate
Emergency Crews Call Butte Flooding Worst in 40 Years Emergency Crews Call Butte Flooding Worst in 40 Years
Seward Reports Evacuations, Outages, Road Closures Thursday Seward Reports Evacuations, Outages, Road Closures Thursday
In a Friday statement on Seward damage, Seward City Clerk Johanna Kinney says crews are working to restore power to the Exit Glacier Road area. Limited road access is available was available to Lowell Point Road, but Dieckgraeff Road and the Old Mill Subdivision remain closed. City officials are continuing to operate a local emergency operations center as of 4 p.m. Friday.
“The Emergency Operations Center will remain open, and will evaluate if it will close or stay open by 5:00 p.m. today,” Kinney wrote.
A Kenai Peninsula Borough statement says Mayor Mike Navarre cited the flooding in Seward, as well the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service area and parts of Anchor Point, Cooper Landing, Kasilof, Moose Pass and. Ninilchik. The borough has requested assistance from Parnell’s office as well as the state’s emergency operations center.
Damage in Butte from rising waters of the Matanuska River includes four homes and one business. Several homes near the river were already encroached upon by the flooding, with water levels expected to rise through the weekend.
According to the state Department of Transportation’s road-closures website, the Denali Highway was closed and impassable from Mile 114 to Mile 121, with repairs expected to take until 6 p.m. Friday. The Richardson Highway remains closed from Mile 12 to Mile 16, due to high water at a bridge. Other road closures included Kalifornsky Beach Road near Soldotna at Mile 11, and Exit Glacier Road near Seward.
In addition, the Parks Highway was facing possible closures near Willow at Mile 56.5 as well as from Mile 74 to 75, with water approaching the roadway. DOT spokesperson Rick Feller says crews are watching the weather closely, with more rains in the forecast increasing the possibility of closing the Parks.
"Our last report is that we're nearing the tipping point," Feller said.
The Alaska Railroad says it's also facing several washouts due to flooding, including a 500-foot section of washed-out track near Gold Creek, about 35 miles north of Talkeetna. Railroad spokesperson Stephenie Wheeler says heavy equipment is headed to the washout site, caused by Susitna River basin flood waters, but repairs could take until Monday depending on weather.
In addition, rail bridges crossing Little Willow Creek, the Kashwitna River and Sheep Creek, near Miles 73, 82 and 88 of the Parks Highway respectively, are at risk as water scours at their supports. Crews are preparing equipment to begin fortifying the bridge supports Friday evening.
Freight trains will not run between Anchorage and Fairbanks until the washout and bridges are both repaired, and passengers on the railroad's Anchorage-Fairbanks Aurora train will instead travel on buses this weekend. The railroad's Anchorage-Seward-Whittier corridor remains open, although several small washouts have been repaired.
The National Weather Service says a flood warning for the Susitna Valley will remain in effect until 10 p.m. Friday, while a warning for southern Prince William Sound will stay in effect until 6 p.m. Friday and a Seward warning was extended until 4 p.m. Saturday. A flood watch was issued for the Nenana River Friday as conditions south of the Alaska Range moved north, with the river expected to rise up to a foot.
According to Channel 2 chief meteorologist Jackie Purcell, both rains and high winds will return to the region Friday night and continue into the weekend, as a new low-pressure system arrives from the Gulf of Alaska. Rain was already returning Friday to parts of the Kenai Peninsula Borough and southern Prince William Sound; while no wind advisory has yet been issued, Anchorage’s upper Hillside could see winds up to 70 mph.
There's a few pictures of the flooding here too:
Video of the Seavey kennels and Excursion location in Seward. The Seavey's are multi generation/multi time Iditarod winners who finance the racing with the dog excursions.
This was posted by Anchorage Daily News today. http://vimeo.com/49945685
The problem is that people keep screaming:"The wolf is coming, the wolf is coming!" so often that we never notice the coyote that is running off with the chickens.
Published: September 21st, 2012 10:13 PM Last Modified: September 22nd, 2012 01:14 AM
Coverage of flooding in Southcentral Alaska has been updated with a new story.
Update 10 p.m.:
A new advisory from the National Weather Service extends the flood warning for the Susitna Valley until 10 a.m. Sunday.
"Widespread flooding persists across the Susitna Valley with nearly all rivers and streams swollen and out of their banks," the warning says.
For Talkeetna: "The Talkeetna River above the railroad bridge appears to have crested Friday afternoon just below major flood stage. Backwater effects from the Susitna River [just downstream] will prolong flooding in Talkeetna until the Susitna drops appreciably."
All current Weather Service warnings here.
Update, 9 p.m.:
From Casey Grove in Talkeetna -
The Talkeetna River, backed up at its mouth by the swollen Susitna River, continues to flow through East Talkeetna, covering streets with more than a foot of water. In historic downtown Talkeetna, water has reached lines of sandbags.
Water flowed across a road to the Talkeetna Airport and was creeping toward the runway as pilots moved their planes to safety. Close by, maintenance trains moved boulders to shore up washed out sections of track. A 500-foot section of track near Gold Creek outside of Talkeetna had washed out, the Alaska Railroad said.
As darkness was falling, some of the younger residents in town shared stories alongside the road before heading to whatever dry place they'd found to stay for the night. One woman had found a runaway dog, leashed him and given him the temporary name "Flotsom."
Bar patrons at the Fairview Inn, downtown, were turned out about 8 p.m. as the last of the downtown establishments closed due to flood danger. Residents worked with a backhoe in one part of downtown to create trenches diverting water from downtown. In East Talkeetna, residents simply tried to reach their homes to retrieve important belongings and get bedding to stay with friends.
One of those was Joe Bartz, who waded through nearly waist-high water to reach his house on the corner of Easy and Front streets. Bartz had moved out computers and mementos earlier in the day and returned to get something on which to sleep.
"The water's going to the edge of my property. It's not nearly as bad as some other properties back there," Bartz said. "There was water up to the window panes."
"It's a ghost town back there," he said. "It's really eerie."
Update 6:45 p.m.:
Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday declared "a verbal declaration of a state disaster" for the Mat-Su Borough, Kenai Peninsula and other areas affected by high winds and floods, his office announced.
"As the continuous operations of local jurisdictions extend into the weekend, an increase in state support will provide relief in terms of emergency management personnel and equipment as needed by communities," the statement said. "Currently, 10 incident management personnel have been requested through the State Emergency Operation Center to support ongoing operations in the Mat-Su area."
Parnell's full statement here. (plus lots more, very long article):
A National Weather Service flood warning was in effect for the Susitna Valley until 10 p.m. Sunday. The weather service says rivers and streams draining from the Talkeetna Mountains have crested and water levels fell steadily Friday night, but meteorologists don't expect rainfall Saturday to significantly increase water levels.
Gov. Sean Parnell toured the area by helicopter and landed to talk to some Talkeetna-area residents who had left their homes.
Flooding is causing problems over a wide swath of Alaska, from Talkeetna, near the base of Mount McKinley, to the port town of Seward, 175 miles to the south.
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