Workers hope to reopen Sterling Highway Sunday

Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Homer's only road connection to the world could reopen Sunday if flood waters recede enough so workers can repair the Sterling Highway, cut in three places this week by heavy flood waters.

''The big issue is whether or not we get any more heavy rains,'' said Murph O'Brien of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. ''If it continues as it has been, we'll be able to start working on these major breaches later today.''

The most serious problem on the Sterling was at the approach to the Deep Creek bridge, O'Brien said. But the road was also breached at Stariski Creek and there was water on the highway at a spot between Anchor Point and Homer.

''We've been very fortunate there's not been any structural damage to the bridges themselves,'' O'Brien said Friday. No significant new rainfall was reported in the area, but another storm was expected over the weekend.

''We'll have to wait and see,'' he said.

Smaller arterial roads near Homer and Anchor Point also were closed by the flooding, including East End Road out of Homer and North Fork Rd., which provides access to the village of Nikolaevsk.

Emergency shelters were set up in Homer, Anchor Point and Seward, while airlines offered more seats to those stranded by the road problems.

''We have been putting larger aircraft on some of our regular flights out of Homer and they fill up almost immediately,'' said Paul Landis, senior vice president of Era Aviation.

Flooding was also a problem in the Seward area, O'Brien said, but no state roads were closed.

Several people were rescued after they were trapped by high waters.

On Wednesday, crewmen from a Coast Guard cutter rescued a man and his dog trapped in the man's trailer near the Seward Highway. The Coast Guard crew used a line-throwing gun to shoot a line to the trailer of David Moore, 45, then got a boat to the structure and rescued the pair.

An Alaska National Guard helicopter was dispatched to Mystery Creek Road near Sterling Thursday to rescue four hunters who were stranded by high water. Ferried to safety were Bobby Deason, 55, of Wasilla, Adam Kosydar, 19 of Sterling, Leslie Kosydar, 50 of Soldotna, and Russell Lacy, 30 of Soldotna.

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