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Borough OKs flood relief

$250,000 in emergency funds set for response, assessment

Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2006

With flooding continuing Tuesday in Seward, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly acted quickly with a $250,000 emergency appropriation for response and assessment.

High winds, heavy rains and flooding that blocked parts of the Seward Highway and washed out a bridge in Seward led Mayor John Williams to declare a local disaster Monday asking for state assistance.

Tuesday, he sought emergency funding to begin paying the costs. The $250,000 requested in Ordinance 2006-19-31 may not be the last appropriation the assembly will be asked to OK.

“There may be a request for more,” he told the assembly Tuesday night.

Local flooding continued Wednesday in the Seward area, and the National Weather Service was forecasting more rain into Wednesday night, the administration said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.

“Contractors and equipment continue to be dispatched today to several trouble spots and will be working to mitigate ongoing flooding caused by area streams and rivers. Several local area roads are still closed due to flood damage or water in the roadway today,” the release said.

Access to Lowell Point and Old Mill subdivisions remained closed until further notice, the borough said.

Borough emergency officials are assessing the damage caused by the storm-driven flooding and evaluating what resources are needed. Crews from the city of Seward had worked through Monday night redirecting water into Resurrection Bay at the overloaded Lowell Creek diversion tunnel, Williams said.

By Wednesday, the city of Seward had closed its Emergency Operations Center and a joint Recovery Center was established at Bear Creek Flood Service Area and Kenai Peninsula Borough satellite offices in Seward.

Mayor Williams dispatched the borough’s Mobile Command Center vehicle to Seward on Wednesday to establish a communications center with high-speed Internet connections, two-way radio communications and IP telephone support for the increasing number of borough staff that are being sent to the Seward area as part of the ongoing response and assessment efforts.

Borough emergency officials have been working with a state team that is on the ground assessing damage. Gov. Frank Murkowski is expected to sign a disaster declaration “hopefully within a very short period of time,” Williams said.

A Wednesday press release from the Alaska Department of Military & Veterans Affairs noted that flooding and high winds had affected communities across southern Alaska. State transportation officials were said to be continually assessing roadways, that the city of Cordova had also issued a disaster declaration, and that state ferries were assisting isolated travelers in Valdez.

The Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management has asked that a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) come to Alaska to work with state emergency officials and coordinate federal assistance that may be needed. The Governor’s Disaster Policy Cabinet was scheduled to meet to address the local disaster declarations and advise the governor.

The heavy rain and winds pounding southern Alaska since late Sunday have caused flooding and mudslides. The Lowell Point Bridge was washed out, cutting of the Lowell Point community. High winds also cut electrical power to south Kachemak Bay communities from Halibut Cove to Nanwalek, but by Tuesday night, power had mostly been restored there, Williams said.

Emergency Ordinance 2006-19-31, appropriating the $250,000, passed unanimously.

The administration indicated they would seek reimbursement for borough expenditures from the state.

Hal Spence can be reached at harold.spence@peninsulaclarion.com.



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