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Flood Aware Fair attendance low

Posted: April 6, 2014 - 9:06pm
Photo by Kaylee Osowski Peninsula Clarion Rebecca Lopez (far right), Individual Assistance Branch Chief with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, along with representatives from other state and Kenai Peninsula Borough agencies wait to answer questions from people affect by central peninsula flooding at the borough sponsored Flood Aware Fair on Friday at the Donald E. Gilman River Center in Soldotna.
Photo by Kaylee Osowski Peninsula Clarion Rebecca Lopez (far right), Individual Assistance Branch Chief with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, along with representatives from other state and Kenai Peninsula Borough agencies wait to answer questions from people affect by central peninsula flooding at the borough sponsored Flood Aware Fair on Friday at the Donald E. Gilman River Center in Soldotna.

The first Kenai Peninsula Borough sponsored Flood Aware Fair for the central peninsula didn’t draw many people out on Friday.

Borough Community and Fiscal Projects Manager Brenda Ahlberg wrote in an email that while she didn’t have a count for how many people attended the fair, it was lower than expected.

Shortly after noon Department of Natural Resources Division of Mining Land and Water Chief of the Water Resources Section David Schade said he expected to see a lunchtime crowd, but that didn’t happen.

Multiple representatives speculated that the low turn out during the day was likely due to people having to work and expected to see more flood victims after 5 p.m.

The fair brought together representatives from multiple state and borough departments at the Donald E. Gilman River Center in Soldotna from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to answer questions for residents affected by flooding and rising water tables throughout the peninsula.

Individual Assistance Branch Chief with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Rebecca Lopez said common questions directed to her department from affected homeowners have centered around how funds through the program can be used. She said the money can only be used to repair or replace items that were damaged during the declared disaster for the Kalifornsky Beach flood on Oct. 27-28, 2013. The funds cannot be used to improve items or infrastructure.

Ahlberg said because of the widespread issue, the borough determined the fair would be beneficial.

“Obviously the K-Beach area was largely affected, but we also had areas in Anchor Point, out in Nikiski, areas past Homer that were also affected,” she said. “They didn’t have significant damages, but they certainly had damages of their own. In the Kenai area there was reports made also.”

The borough puts on a similar event annually in Seward due to the area’s regular flood problems. Ahlberg said how well the Seward event is attended depends on the severity of year’s flood event.

“I know they greatly appreciate it because it’s kind of a one-stop shop for folks that are also looking for permits,” she said.

Ahlberg said the borough wanted to keep the fair casual and non-threatening and allow the public plenty of time to meet with officials set up at tables opposed to town hall meetings where members of the public are only allowed three minutes to speak.

Attending agencies included: KPB Home builders Association, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Division of Mining Land and Water, the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration River Watch and borough departments.

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

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