Rivers rise once again; Peninsula prepares for 2nd flood in week

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2002

Residents in low-lying areas along the upper and lower Kenai River were once again keeping a close eye on rising water levels Wednesday afternoon as the river reached minor flood stage for the second time in a week.

Moderate rainfall Tuesday along the western slope of the Kenai Mountains caused enough runoff from the Killey River Basin to raise the lower Kenai River level, according to the National Weather Service.

The Killey River empties into the Kenai at Kenai Keys in Sterling where residents were busy moving motor homes and spare vehicles to high ground along Kamloops Lane, the main access road into the subdivision.

About six inches of water spilled across the access road Wednesday afternoon, despite an additional culvert the Kenai Peninsula Borough installed beneath the road near the flooded section earlier this year.

Lee Riley, a retired cable splicer for Matanuska Telephone Co., said his property again had more than two feet of water, flooding his garage and coming up to the bottom of his house, which is built about two feet above the ground.

"After the water went down some last weekend, I pulled out all the damaged plastic sheeting under the house, and now the water's right back in there," Riley said Wednesday.

He and his wife, Vi, were among a half dozen Kenai Keys residents gathered around an American Red Cross emergency response vehicle, which had come to the area offering coffee, hot cocoa and doughnuts as well as flood clean-up kits.

Another Kenai Keys resident, Shorty Allen, said flood waters had come up across his property, but his home, which was built in 1996, the year after a major flood struck the area, was built high enough to be above major flood stage.

Ellen and Peter Lekisch, and Mae and Fred Oehlert, two couples who live in Anchorage and have seasonal cabins in the Kenai Keys, said flood waters had not reached their homes by Wednesday either, but they were keeping an eye on the river.

The Anchorage Red Cross office had its emergency response vehicle in HOmer last week, and it got stuck on the other side of the bridge said Red Cross worker B. B. Reynolds, who staffed the van with his wife, Rubye Thomas-Reynolds.

The couple, based in Fairbanks, drove to the Kenai Peninsula to assist flood victims from the north side of the washed out section of Sterling Highway at Deep Creek in Ninilchik.

"We helped in Seward with damage assessment and handed out cleaning kits," said Reynolds.

"Then we fed workers on the Deep Creek bridge over the weekend.

"We've been doing damage assessment in Anchor Point and today (Wednesday) we're in Kenai Keys, Big Eddy and we'll head back to Anchor Point," he said.

Road construction crews at Deep Creek were fed grilled chicken and sirloin tips Saturday and country-fried chicken and shredded pork Sunday, according to Annette Hakkinen branch manager of the Southcentral Alaska chapter of the Red Cross. She said the meals including potatoes, rolls and beverages, were prepared by the North Kenai Baptist Church.

The weather service said the river was at 12.1 feet at Kenai Keys and rising slowly Wednesday afternoon. Minor flood stage there is 12 feet. The river level was expected to crest there at 12.5 feet by this morning.

In Cooper Landing, where minor flood stage at Primrose Road is 13 feet, the river rose to 13.7 feet by Wednesday morning. It is expected to fall again to 13 feet by Friday.

River levels in Soldotna were expected to rise to minor flood stage of 12 feet by this morning.

Flood warnings were extended through 4 p.m. Friday for the upper Kenai River and through 4 p.m. today for the Kenai River below Cooper Landing.

The forecast from the weather service was calling for showers likely today, a chance of rain or show showers tonight, and a chance of rain Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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