Residents near K-Beach Road in Kenai might finally have some relief as they continue to battle surface and groundwater flooding.
Borough Mayor Mike Navarre issued a local disaster emergency declaration Tuesday.
Between Miles 11 and 16 along K-Beach, it’s a mess. And the approximately three inches of rain that fell late in the weekend didn’t help much. Not at all, really, unless you’re a sickleback, which have found new stomping grounds in some newly created streams.
A day after Governor Sean Parnell took a look at the extent of the damage that property owners face, the Borough took the first step toward getting additional resources to help alleviate what they can by issuing the declaration. Borough spokesperson Brenda Ahlberg says first, the state needs to sign off.
“What would be enacted is the individual assistance program,” Ahlberg said. “For the affected homeowners that qualify, that program would give some funds to mitigate damages.”
There are some stipulations. Carrying flood insurance, for one.
“The assistance would be specifically for their primary residence, primary mode of transportation,” Ahlberg said.
The official declaration notes damage that includes two to four feet of water in crawl spaces and basements, damaged furnaces, flooded septic systems, inundated wells and flooded driveways and yards.
The Borough anticipates as many as 40 people could be displaced due to road closures. Central Emergency Services has some ATV’s stationed nearby for emergency access.
The declaration doesn’t stop at K-Beach. Tall Tree Road in Anchor Point is impassable due to flooding. The Seward Airport is closed due to flooding, and a portion of the road between Tyonek and Beluga on the other side of the Inlet has been washed out.
The declaration asks the state for continued technical assistance, public assistance for emergency response and safe drinking kits for at least 1,500 residential structures.
Along K-Beach, the problem is that the volume of water is far greater than the drainage capacity of both the natural topography of the land and the installed infrastructure. It’s too flat and there aren’t enough paths straight to Cook Inlet to handle it all. A part of the solution could be to extend a ditch along K-Beach to the south where there is a drain to the Inlet, but that work would first need to be approved by the state.
When we got back to the shop, I asked Pat Malone what’s next.
“I don’t know. That’s the honest answer. We’re going to see what we can do to ameliorate some of the water, hope it [percolates into the ground] before we get a hard freeze. And hoping we don’t get a rain storm like we had over the weekend,” Malone said.
The Borough is keeping tabs on property damage estimates and affected structures and lots at its website along with mitigation tips, like avoiding pumping septic systems and well testing before a freeze.