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Obama declares K-Beach flood area a federal disaster

Posted: January 23, 2014 - 9:32pm  |  Updated: January 24, 2014 - 10:05am

President Barack Obama declared the fall flooding in the Kenai Peninsula Borough along Kalifornsky Beach Road a federal disaster last week.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said while the declaration is limited to aiding public infrastructure, it can help to fund mitigation plans and make low-interest Small Business Administration loans available to businesses affected by the Oct. 27-28, 2013 flood.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local governments, Native tribes and certain non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding. Communities can apply to the program on behalf of homeowners and businesses, but individuals cannot apply directly, unlike the State Individual Assistance program, the application period for which closed last week.

Navarre said the borough is working with the state on an “overall plan” and determining which agencies and departments are responsible for various areas affected by the flooding.

Diana Bartelds, who lives on Bore Tide Court with her husband Jon Bartelds, said they aren’t “nearly as bad off” as some of their neighbors, but they’re still experiencing the effects of the flood. The couple takes short showers and doesn’t flush the toilet more than twice a day. Everyday they check the leach field and the septic as well as their basement and sump pump.

“After this long we kind of forget that the stuff we’re doing is differently because it’s become part of daily life,” Diana Bartelds said.

She said their electric bill is about three times higher than previous years at this time because they had to run their pump and dehumidifier all day. Around Christmas they stopped pumping floodwater.

Diana Bartelds said the recent warmer temperatures have her concerned about what will happen with the frozen floodwaters blanketed with snow when thawing occurs.

“We just don’t know when the ground thaws underneath it and when the ditches thaw, are we all in trouble again,” she said.

Karluk Avenue resident Clare Swan expressed similar worries about what’s going to happen when the weather warms up this spring.

“All we know for sure is that we don’t have water in the house right at the moment,” she said.

Clare Swan said she and her husband Van Swan fared better than many of their neighbors and friends in the area. However, the couple did have standing water in their basement for more than a month. Clare Swan said they don’t know for sure the extent of the damage to their home.

“We’re worried about mold,” she said. … “We’ve never had that before. … That would mean replacing the insulation and cleaning it up downstairs in our basement.”

A memo from Scott Walden, director of the Office of Emergency Management at the borough, was provided at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting Tuesday. The Roads Service Area will continue to monitor problem areas identified last fall and clear ice and snow from existing ditches to make sure natural flow isn’t impeded, he wrote.

In February or March, the borough plans to hold a public meeting about actions, planning, property owner considerations and assistance programs, according to the memo.

 

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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