State disaster team delayed over high water

Borough warn pumpers and trenchers to be cautious with water

After declaring a disaster on Tuesday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough the next day asked the state to delay sending its disaster assessment team to begin its investigation into the cause of widespread flooding seen last weekend and in the previous months.


“The borough asked them not to send down the disaster assessment team, until this weekend, or possibly Monday or Tuesday of next week.” Sharon Leighow, press secretary for Gov. Sean Parnell, said in an email. “The water is still too high to make accurate assessment of the damages.”

A team from the Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will at some point visit flood affected areas on the Peninsula, read through resident-written damage reports, confer with several hydrologist and the make a recommendation to Parnell on what course of aid is required for publicly owned and privately owned properties damaged during flooding.

The team is expected to arrive Nov. 5 and begin its on-the-ground assessment.

“We have been in touch on the phone and through email every day,” borough Community & Fiscal Projects Manager Brenda Ahlberg said.

Responding to the continued high water in the Kalifornsky Beach area, on Thursday Ahlberg asked that homeowners and business owners who continue to pump water off their property do so with caution.

“Take the time to follow the water path enough distance to determine if it has an appropriate place to go, and not causing damage to other property or roadways,” Ahlberg said in an email.

The email also contained a reminder that working in borough-maintained road easements requires a permit. Don’t try to block culverts or divert ditching, she said. “Areas of work are anticipated to be located near Mile 11 K-Beach Road,” she said.

While the borough has announce no formal plan to deal with the flood waters held back by Kalifornski Beach Road, which have filled and estimated 6,000 of swamps and wetlands, Wednesday, Ahlberg said the roads department was working with the state to build a water diversion system and drain the developed area so that repairs might begin before the winter freeze begins. “We are mindful that winter is coming,” she said.

Thursday, borough crews and private contractors finished boring under Kalifornsky Beach Road and prepared to install drainage culverts. Crews also began a round-the-clock pumping operation to drain basins on Karluk Street that the borough began filing with diverted water some time ago. Ahlberg said the operation should last a few days and asked that people stay clear of the pumps and watch themselves in diverted traffic areas. Many road in the area remain closed due to flooding or “access issues,” she said.

Reach Greg Skinner at