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Update: Borough extends state of emergency over areawide flooding

Flooding in the K-Beach area has been affecting properties since the snowmelt in May.
Riley Board
Flooding in the K-Beach area has been affecting properties since the snowmelt in May.

Update 9/20

The Kenai Peninsula Borough has extended its emergency declaration through October 24.

The declaration, which was originally made last Thursday, Sept. 14, is related to high water incidents across the peninsula, including in the Kenai Keys, the Kalifornsky Beach area, and on the eastern peninsula.

In a memo to the borough assembly, Emergency Manager Brenda Ahlberg wrote that the declaration originally expired after seven days, but that, “response and recovery efforts continue and are expected to require ongoing use of Borough resources.”

The state of emergency opens the borough up to emergency funds, and possible relief money from the state and federal governments. The borough assembly unanimously approved the extension at its meeting Tuesday night.

Original Story 9/15

The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor declared a state of emergency yesterday afternoon, following high water and the impacts of several glacial dam releases. Mayor Peter Micciche issued the emergency declaration after a summer of high water conditions in certain areas, and the impacts of major hydrological events that started last week.

In a neighborhood off Kalifornsky Beach Road, residents have expressed worry about high water since the spring. The borough moved some water in July, and committed $175,000 to study the issue in August.

Last week, multiple glacial lakes were released into the Kenai River, creating high water issues for residents of the Kenai Keys area near Sterling.

K-Beach area residents have been calling on the mayor to declare an emergency since August, but the borough did not meet the financial threshold to do so. At a candidate forum last night, shortly after the declaration, Micciche said the glacial dam releases and area-wide high water issues have now made that an option.

“We have high water issues all over, the highest precipitation levels since 1988,” he said. “All of our groundwater systems are overcharged. I think we’re going to have issues, and we’re having some right now.”

The declaration allows the borough to access $100,000 in emergency funds to respond to high water conditions. Last night, Micciche said he’s also reaching out to the governor about obtaining financial support for residents who have lost their septic systems or experienced other damage.

“If we have additional impacts, then it releases federal funding, which takes the state’s spend down to 25% from 100, and allows us to support more effectively,” Micciche said. “I believe, from all the indications in front of us, that we’re going to experience much more significant events this fall.”

The borough Office of Emergency Management is continuing to monitor high water areas throughout the borough.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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