Kenai Peninsula Mayor Mike Navarre today declared surface-water flooding across the borough a “Disaster Emergency” and formally asked the state for help.
The flooding, which began mid-September, has affected areas from Seward to Anchor Point by flooding homes, septic systems, wells and washing out roads, which cut off some residents. Heavy rains seen over the weekend drove water levels to the highest seen since the event began and followed a period last week in which the water began to recede.
The most hard hit areas on the central Kenai Peninsula are in the subdivisions along Kalifornsky Beach Road, where basements, crawlspaces and roads have flooded, blocking off homes and shutting down heat for some residents who have for weeks asked the borough to declare an emergency as they have sought help dealing with the water as it moves from 6,000 flooded acres on its way to Cook Inlet.
Some residents have had to leave their homes. Several small farm operations have lost or sold off livestock. Prior to the weekend’s increased flooding the borough thought its response, installing culverts to move water toward Cook Inlet, was done for the year.
The bulk of floodwater is up to three-quarters of a mile from drainage into the inlet and the borough has no way to empty the flooded acreage, Navarre said. He expects that 30 to 40 people could be displaced as a result.
The rain Sunday night “increased the level of impact” and justified the declaration. Gov. Sean Parnell was in town Monday for non-related business, but Navarre said he asked him to see the flooded areas.
“He is well aware (of the situation),” Navarre said.
Part of the declaration process requires documentation of losses and Navarre asked those affected by the flooding to visit the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management website, or by phone, to be included in the full picture for Parnell’s cabinet to consider.
With a disaster declared locally, Navarre hopes the state will follow suit and open up the possibility of access to disaster grants that can help residents, who in many cases have already spent tens of thousands of dollars dealing with the flooding.
Along with a request for technical assistance and repairs to public facilities damaged by the water, Navarre asked for assistance for individual home and business owners and safe drinking kits for at least 1,500 homes.
“There has been a lot of loss,” Navarre said.
The online damage report form may be found at http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency-mgmt/flood/flood-damage-report-form. The Office of Emergency Management can be reached at 907-262-4910.