Flooding continues on Central Peninsula, Seward

Near the end of Big Eddy Road, where the concrete changes to gravel, the Kenai River has intruded upon RW Weilbacher’s property. Multiple buildings rest on the land including 19 summer condos, which are above the flood plain. His barn and home aren’t above the floodwaters, but he is riding out the storm.


“I got all my help out,” Weilbacher said, owner and operator of RW’s Fishing & Big Eddy Resort. “It’s just me down there, now. I’ve been moving all the stuff in the barn. Everything’s been moved upward, and everything’s OK. I can take a few more inches before the barn goes under.”

All the guests left Saturday, he added.

The flood warning for the Kenai Peninsula remains in effect until 5 p.m. Thursday. The Kenai Peninsula Borough continues to send out updates about damages caused by the flood and is assisting state agencies with repairs and management. The Alaska Department of Transportation is assessing the damages at Mile Post 11 of Kalifornsky Beach Road.

The Kenai River will remain above flood stage at least through Thursday, according to a Borough press release.

Road crews in Seward made strides Tuesday at Bear Creek, but the area’s subdivisions remained closed except to homeowners. Lowell Point Road is closed, and crews are removing debris and diverting water around the Box Canyon and Kwechak levees, the press release says.

The Red Cross is providing clean-up kits to Seward residents at the Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

Flooding persists in the Central Peninsula area and Cooper Landing. Kenai Lake has crested; water levels throughout Cooper Landing should fall slowly through Wednesday, depending on the weather. Kenai Keyes, Big Eddy Road near the river and Fisherman’s Road in Funny River are closed, according to borough officials.

Scattered showers are expected on Wednesday and Thursday, and rain also is likely on Friday.

“Depending on weather conditions, we’ll still seeing moderate flooding,” said Brenda Ahlberg, Borough information officer. “We’re asking people just be vigilant and continue to be wary of going into problem areas.”

Weilbacher waded through the floodwater streaming through the entrance at his property; neighbors visited to check on the progress of the flooding.

Other than his barn and home, he said, the condos rest far above the flood plain, as required by the Borough. The condos are about four feet above the ground, far higher than mandated. Weilbacher’s home sits on high ground, and the floodwaters have not yet reached his doorstep.

He bought the property in 1995 — the same year the borough experienced a major flood. During the ’95 flood, a decent portion of Big Eddy road was submerged, he said.

Monday morning through the afternoon, the floodwaters rose about an inch an hour, Weilbacher said. Later, from about 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesday, the water rose about an inch.

“This is a cakewalk right now compared to ’95,” he said.

During Sept. 1995, a single cyclone drenched areas of Southcentral Alaska with more than 20 inches of rainfall in several days. The rain caused many streams to flood on the Peninsula, and damages were estimated at $10 million, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The borough is asking residents to report damages caused by the current flooding. In order to obtain a state or federal disaster declaration, the Borough must obtain an estimate of damages and expenses from the flood. Residents can visit www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency to report their damages.

Emergency personnel will be visiting the affected areas once floodwaters recede; residents are not required to give an assessment to the team while on-site.

Also, homeowners with onsite wells on flooded property should boil water used for drinking, cooking, hand washing, or dish washing. Boil filtered and settled water for two minutes. Two potable water sites are available for personal container fill-ups at RV dump stations located at the corner of B Street and Ballaine Boulevard in Seward.

Multiple agencies visited the fissure at Kalifornsky Beach Road 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The Department of Transportation is expecting to begin short-term repairs on the road when floodwaters decrease, said Rick Feller, Central region’s public information officer.

That work would likely include reconstructing culverts and filling the gap in the road. Re-establishing the connection between communities is the top priority, Feller said. Long-term needs, such as stronger culverts or improving drainage capacity, will be addressed during the 2013 construction season.

Residents who need non-emergency assistance or the latest flood information may call 714-2484.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.