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Kenai River jam doesn’t move much, still poses flood threat downstream

Ice has lazy day

Posted: Friday, February 02, 2007

A large ice jam working its way through the lower Kenai River was poised to make another move downstream Thursday evening, after moving about a quarter mile since Thursday morning.

At the start of the day the ice blockage was stuck at Mile 15.5 of the river, but jostled its way downstream to the bottom of Eagle Island, about a quarter mile from the River Quest subdivision. River ice below the jam was weakening and breaking into chunks Thursday afternoon, a sign that the large jam would soon be on the move.

Each move downstream brings further threat of flooding to low-lying areas as excess water trapped along with the ice releases in a rush. Areas most in danger currently are between river miles 15 and 14, particularly the Big Eddy and River Quest neighborhoods.

Those areas did not experience flooding during the day Thursday, but the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation continues to advise residents of areas that have suffered flooding to boil their water before use until their wells can be treated and checked.

The ice continues to threaten docks, fishing platforms and other riverbank structures. As ice chunks move downriver they scours riverbanks, ripping out trees and any structures in their path.

Riverfront property owners upstream who already have lost docks and other structures must work through a permitting process with the Kenai River Center before rebuilding. Center staff cautions property owners that the full extent of ice damage can’t be assessed until spring breakup when the remaining river ice has thawed and flushed out into Cook Inlet. Property owners shouldn’t submit construction permits until they know for sure how much damage was done. In the meantime, people are encouraged to document property damage with photos. And anyone still downstream of the ice jam should remove as much of their riverbank structures as they can.

The center has created a new link on its Web site with information for riverfront residents who suffered ice-caused property damage at www.borough.kenai.ak.us/KenaiRiverCenter.

The borough Web site has ice and flood updates, and information about water and sewer system safety at www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency. Or call the Office of Emergency Management at 262-4910.



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