Residents stay, highway remains closed

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2002

The second severe storm in a month brought with it floods that caused damage to both roads and bridges, but people in rain-soaked areas are determined not to let the water keep them from their homes.

With three to eight inches of rain reported on the southern Kenai Peninsula between Friday and Saturday, several roads and bridges needed repair after they were damaged and had to be closed.

Saturday evening authorities closed the Sterling Highway between Miles 157 and 165, the Old Sterling Highway, Homer's East End Road, Oil Well Road and evacuated homes in the Black Water Bend area near Anchor Point.

Although the flooding is unusual, authorities were well-practiced at dealing with the excessive water damage after last month's torrential rains, which caused similar washouts to roads and bridges.

After the flooding in late October, tons of rocks were shipped south to repair the damage to the Sterling Highway from the South Fork of Anchor River to Black Water Bend Road Bridge.

The massive rocks were no match for this past weekend's downpours, however, which caused damage at the north approach to Black Water Bend Road Bridge on the Sterling Highway; it is still being worked on. The damaged bridge is what closed the Sterling Highway.

"This doesn't appear to be a major problem," said Jan Henry, coordinator with the Kenai Borough Office of Emergency Management.

The Old Sterling Highway was reopened Sunday after authorities determined the bridge over the river was safe. It is serving as a detour for one-lane traffic, so people can get around the flooding, Henry said.

Even though some travelers were stranded Saturday night, they were able to get home Sunday.

People who were southbound were detained in Anchor Point for the night.

Four families stayed at Anchor Point Seafoods with owner Jim Toci. The operation used to be a lodge, so Toci had accommodations for his stranded friends.

"Today, there is a fine sprinkle -- not the usual deluge," Toci said Sunday.

Many residents, from Mile 161 southward, disagreed that the flooding warranted an evacuation. When asked by Alaska State Troopers to leave their homes, few complied, Henry said.

"It is hard to get people out of their homes, unfortunately," he said.

Several repairs continued through Sunday. Oil Well Road was damaged, with areas near the smaller streams still being repaired. East End Road at Bear Creek and Williams drives was damaged at several points and is closed.

Rain is expected to fall on the south peninsula both today and Tuesday, with a chance of rain Wednesday through Friday.

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