Borough responds to flooding: Crews work to repair Box Canyon levee in Seward

Posted: Friday, July 31, 2009

The levee broke, but people have a place to stay.

In Seward, at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Soldotna Dispatch Center was notified of the rise in the water flowing out of Box Canyon, along Exit Glacier Road and the potential comprise of bridges along this road.

"It was noted that there has been a landslide in the upper portion of Box Canyon and the levee was compromised," said Sue Wilcox, special assistant to Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey.

In response to the event, Carey activated the Incident Command Team at 9 a.m. that morning, and John Mohorcich was established as the Incident Commander for the event. An emergency shelter was also established at Seward Middle School with the cooperation of the Kenai Peninsula School District.

According to Wilcox, crews immediately began working to restore the levee, and several areas went on "watch" due to the rising water levels. The bridge going to Lowell Point was also deemed impassable and transportation across it became compromised.

Crews and equipment began working to provide access, and residents living in the area began being shuttled by water taxi.

The Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department, in an effort to be proactive with their response, began going door-to-door to notify residents of water rising to flood levels in the Old Exit Glacier Subdivision.

On Wednesday afternoon, the skies cleared, providing crews working on the levee throughout the day and into the evening with the opportunity they needed to restore the structure for retaining water.

"At high tide last night, the waters within the Seward area remained high, with minor flooding in low lying areas. The rain gave us a window to shore things up. Crews in the Box Canyon were able to reconstruct the Box Canyon levee and the waters have receded," Wilcox said.

Crews will work through today to finish the restoration of this levee. Crews will also begin reconstruction of Old Exit Glacier Road to put it back into place. The bridge going to Lowell Point remained impassable on Thursday, but crews were continuing work, with access expected to be returned by today.

"With as much as two inches of additional rain forecasted over the next 24 hours, we will continue monitoring the situation along with the City of Seward," Wilcox said.

While no one has used it yet, the shelter at Seward Middle School will remain open. Seward residents are asked by the Borough Office of Emergency Management to remain vigilant in obtaining information regarding flooding in their immediate areas.

Kenai Peninsula Borough residents can call 1-800-478-4441 and press the pound sign for updates and further information, or 907-224-9516, to contact the borough office in Seward.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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