The governor’s declaration of a disaster for the flooding in the Kalifornsky Beach area is a much appreciated first step as residents of the area try to figure out just what comes next.
Flooding in the area began late this summer, and has been attributed to changes in the water column in the area. Water literally just bubbled up out of the ground, creeping into basements, crawl spaces and septic systems while also covering roadways in the area.
Then, just as many residents were finally drying out, the area was hit with heavy rains on Oct. 27-28, and much of the area, if it wasn’t still under water, was re-submerged. In an effort to repair public infrastructure such as roads, borough crews have pumped and diverted water out of the area.
However, property owners are for the most part on their own when it comes to addressing the damages, and the recent cold snap is likely making much of the damage to private property even worse.
The governor’s declaration is two-fold; it paves the way for the borough to repair damages to public infrastructure, as well as the possibility of assistance for individuals to address damage to private property, which is likely to be extensive.
There is a rub, though. The groundwater flooding is not considered a disaster, so only damage caused by the late October storm will be eligible for assistance. Local officials and residents anticipate frustration in determining which flooding event caused damage, the Clarion reported, and a state official said that will be determined on a case by case basis.
Plans are being made to establish a hotline for those affected by the floods, and an assistance center will be opened and staffed by state caseworkers. However, no timeline has been set, and the extent of damage may not be fully known until the area thaws out.
In the mean time, residents property owners can report flood damage and apply for property tax abatement on the borough’s website, http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us.
What comes next for the people affected by the disaster remains to be seen. But we are appreciative that at least some of the flooding has been acknowledged as a disaster, and steps are being taken toward recovery.