Seward roads rough, ready

Most streets open but much repair work still to be done

Posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Repair work to damaged roads and bridges in the Seward area continues this week as the region works to recover from last week’s severe flooding.

According to the borough, emergency crews are focusing attention on the most immediate needs to establish safe access to areas cut off by flood damage.

General maintenance work will likely begin in the next few days and address rough area roads, the borough said in a press release Monday. Motorists are being asked to drive with caution.

In an effort to hasten the cleanup of flood debris, Mayor John Williams last week signed an executive order waiving fees at the Seward Solid Waste Transfer Site.

“This is a temporary waiver of fees and applies only to flood debris,” said Bill Popp, special assistant to Mayor Williams and public information officer for the borough’s emergency response.

Residents are being asked not to bring hazardous waste to the transfer site at this time. A special hazardous waste collection day will be advertised within the next few weeks, the borough said.

Even as area residents try to dig out from under flood debris, the National Weather Service was predicting still more rain Monday and Tuesday.

Gov. Frank Murkowski signed a State Disaster Declaration on Saturday for the stricken regions of Southcentral Alaska.

According to a state press release, the declaration will make state resources and funding available for recovery efforts.

The declaration allows the governor to spend up to $1 million for response, management and repairs. It also will qualify the emergency for federal assistance following a federal disaster declaration. That declaration would have to be approved by President George W. Bush.

More immediately, the state declaration will allow the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to expedite work on the highways, bridges and drainage systems damaged by the storm, state officials said.

Meanwhile, Seward city crews shifted their focus from Lowell Point Road to emergency protective measures at Barwell, Chiswell and Phoenix streets, portions of which remained closed Monday, the borough said. Lowell Point Road will remain closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice, except for emergencies, while cleanup work continues there.

Seward officials said they hope to have power restored to portions of Old Mill Subdivision sometime Monday.

A contractor has been hired to facilitate emergency protective measures for the Shellfish Hatchery.

Assembly President Ron Long, who represents the Seward area, said efforts had moved from first response to recovery, and that people appeared to be working well together.

“We’re still trying to get a handle on what the damage amounts to, have access restored and to get people back to their homes,” he said.

Seward is still awaiting a federal declaration, but Long said he expects that to occur shortly.

“FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) teams are expected this week,” Long said. “They’ll measure the damage to roads and bridges on the public assistance side, and to homes and businesses on the individual assistance side.”

Hal Spence can be reached at

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