Many property owners affected by the 2012 and 2013 greater Kaliforsnky Beach area flooding have been patiently biding their time, waiting for Borough government to formulate and implement a comprehensive drainage improvement plan. They have placed their trust in the Borough to take decisive action toward providing improved area-wide drainage by bringing area roads into basic compliance with Borough standards and ordinances and thereby providing proper roadside ditch drainage and additionally by building drainage structures to intercept widespread sheet flow of flood waters moving northward out of the wetlands of the Kenai Gas Fields before reaching and inundating neighboring residential and commercial properties.
With the very real prospect of a third, yes third, consecutive and catastrophic year of flooding area residents are growing increasingly impatient with the lack of communication and action coming from the Borough. Incredibly, water tables are currently higher and surface waters more extensive than during the same period preceding both the 2012 and 2013 flooding. Without decisive and timely action to improve area drainage another year of fall flooding is not merely possible but quite likely. But in reality the flooding has never been merely a fall event but rather a continuous year-round event that is in its third year.
Borough officials must be upfront and completely transparent with local residents as our lives, families, homes, businesses, fortunes, and livelihoods are currently in jeopardy. If Borough intentions are merely to continue to “wait and see” or worse yet to ultimately do nothing, for fear that other similarly situated Borough resident may also petition for relief, then let it be known — now. If Borough officials are intent on abdicating their responsibility to protect the public interest then so be it, but be informed that, with certainty, concerned citizens in the affected area will take meaningful action on our own behalf to improve area drainage ourselves. It is our right and duty to protect our aforementioned interests.
Inaction is no longer tenable. Homes and businesses (structures and properties) have been inundated by both ground and surface flooding; septic systems have flooded and failed, contaminating local ground waters and drinking wells; standing water in yards and roadside ditches has become breeding grounds for massive numbers of mosquitoes; parents are fearful to let their small children near deep roadside ditches that never drain; foundations, driveways, sidewalks, and roads are damaged as saturated soils freeze, heave, and thaw.
Consequently, property values are plummeting; real estate transactions have come to a complete standstill; damaged structures are likely to be condemned or abandoned; desperate homeowners carrying large mortgages are considering walking away from their “under water” obligations; all affected property owners that don’t abandon their properties will, sooner or later, demand radically reduced assessments to reflect properties values that are currently only worth pennies on the dollar. The Borough should ultimately see a radically reduced tax stream in the affected area for the foreseeable future if area drainage remains substandard.
Even if Borough officials can ignore the human health hazards and misery caused by the flooding can they also neglect good business acumen? Is the Borough willing to stand by and watch the loss of approximately 100 million dollars worth of property assessments and consequently millions in property taxes lost annually? If a cost/benefit analysis were performed there’s little doubt that an improved drainage structure in the greater K-Beach area would be justified based on economics alone. It would serve not merely to preserve current property values and tax revenue streams but to enable future property development and additional tax revenue streams.
Where the Borough has not exercised due diligence, clearly failing to act in a timely and effective manner, affected citizens within the flood area will likely form a drainage committee and with state and federal monies granted to the Borough for disaster relief and flood prevention we ourselves will contract with a reputable drainage expert and engineering firm to design and construct efficient, cost effective, and environmentally sensitive drainage improvements. Where the Borough has failed to act, affected citizens within the flood area will bring roadside drainage up to Borough established standards and create suitable structures to intercept flood waters before they reach our community delivering them harmlessly to the waters of Cook Inlet.
No person or persons caused the catastrophic K-Beach flooding, as it was an Act of God. Over the past two years water tables have risen Peninsula-wide but radically so in areas with poor natural drainage such as the greater Kalifonsky area, which covers approximately 30 square miles. Though natural forces caused the flooding, effective engineering of drainage structures in a limited area, in and around existing developments, can attenuate its effects.
If Borough officials will not take the lead in improving K-Beach area drainage then please step aside so that others might “take the bull by the horns” and effectively do so.
Toby Burke, adversely affected
property owner and resident
of the greater K-Beach flood area