Crews dig out Seward bridge

Posted: Friday, October 13, 2006

City crews working to repair flood damage in Seward have found the Lowell Point Road bridge and hope to have access restored to the outlying community today.

Rain has subsided and cleanup is under way following flooding earlier in the week that closed the Seward Highway at Mile 4 and left several Seward subdivisions cut off from the rest of the city.

According to City Clerk Jean Lewis, the city bridge on Lowell Point Road was covered by boulders and other debris that had washed down from a surging waterfall, swollen by three days of torrential rains.

She said city crews managed to dig out the bridge enough to get water flowing under it into a diversion tunnel by Thursday and hoped to have the road repaired enough to open it by sometime today.

Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska state and federal officials were gathering in Seward on Thursday to assess damage to infrastructure and private property caused by the flooding in advance of an anticipated declaration of the area as a state emergency, according to a news release from the borough.

Borough Mayor John Williams has declared it a borough emergency and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday approved an emergency appropriation of $250,000 to aid in recovery efforts.

Williams said representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers will be meeting again on Tuesday to continue their assessment of damage “and move into the next phase of the emergency declaration pro-cess.”

Lewis said one of the closed subdivisions — Old Mill — remained without electric power Thursday, but was now accessible.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Anchorage said light rain was expected to continue falling on the Seward area through this morning, followed by clear, cooler weather.

“The highs will be from the mid-40s through low-50s,” said Sam Albanese, meteorologist.

“That’s what they need to help dry things out,” he said of the cooler temperatures.

Lewis said, “The rain certainly has slowed down.”

She added that city workers, who were working around the clock early in the week, “are extremely tired.”

Elsewhere on the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai River rose to near flood stage at Cooper Landing on Thursday, but was expected to begin receding today.

Flood stage at Cooper Landing is 13 feet, according to Albanese, and the river was at 12.95 feet Thursday morning.

Farther down river at Kenai Keys, a common flood trouble spot, the river is not expected to reach flood stage, Albanese said.

“It’s come up from 7.1 feet on Monday to 9.17 feet (Thursday), but it’s only expected to reach 9.57 feet,” he said. Flood stage of the Kenai River at the Keys is 12 feet.

The weather is expected to be fair and cool in the central Kenai Peninsula, and “Sunday should be a spectacular fall day,” Albanese said.

Temperatures are forecast for highs in the mid-40s with sunny skies.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek

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