Salcha flooding recedes

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The flooding in Salcha caused by an ice jam in the Tanana River has receded.

The National Weather Service called off its flood warning at about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

''It appears the ice jam had loosened a bit and some of the water has gone downstream,'' meteorologist Ed Plumb told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The roughly mile-long, 200-foot-wide jam in the Boondox Bar area remained and was likely to freeze in place, said Tim Biggane, director of emergency operations for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Biggane has been monitoring the situation, along with Salcha Rescue, since it began Tuesday and will continue to watch the ice until freeze-up.

At its height, the jam dammed up the river. Water backed up into residential areas, surrounding one home and washing into the yards and across the driveways of about a dozen others. The water also made its way to the Old Richardson Highway and crossed a culvert.

Rescue workers went door-to-door on Tuesday alerting residents to prepare for an evacuation in case the water rose too high. But by midnight Tuesday, the water level had declined.

''It's flowing underneath the ice, and it's probably found a way back toward the main channel,'' Biggane said.

Ice jams are more a spring occurrence than an early winter one, so Tuesday's jam came as a surprise to many.

An ice jam in the Boondox Bar area caused flooding during breakup last spring, and the area was declared a federal disaster area.

The higher-than-normal temperatures, preventing a proper freeze-up on the Tanana River, have been blamed for this week's jam.

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