Rabbit Creek Receding After Wrecking Bridge

Rabbit creek flood_DE
Melita Buchanan worries that she might loose her deck to erosion as Rabbit Creek floods in Anchorage Friday June 14, 2013. Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

Anchorage’s Rabbit Creek flooded this morning. Water flowed over a bridge and downed logs caused excess water to spill onto lawns and yards. The water caused major damage to a road and a bridge in the area. KSKA’s Daysha Eaton has more.

Georgia Tulbert stands at a debris-covered bridge in South Anchorage, near her house watching the water flow over it.

“It looks like a little Niagara falls right there where the road is supposed to be. There’s no road there anymore. It’s just a crevice with water pouring into into it. I haven’t seen anything like this. It looks like a war zone or something.”

Around noon Friday water was flowing over the banks of Rabbit Creek and down her neighbor Melita Buchanan’s driveway.

“That’s one of our driveways and luckily it’s going back into the creek. See right there. Now we’re gonna go to the house and I’ll show you the damage in the back.”

She and her husband, Garner, first noticed the flooding around 9:30 Friday morning. They heard boulders and trees crashing down the creek which runs past their house. 30 minutes later, a transformer blew and they lost power. They’ve lived along rabbit creek for more than 50 years. They’ve never seen such destructive flooding, which took out a footbridge near their house.

“This is the biggest, the biggest yeah. And we had a bridge across there that was taken out.”

By noon water was rushing over a bridge near their house and authorities had closed the road. The asphalt was breaking off in chunks and the creek was forming new channels. George Vikalis, the city manager for Anchorage, says warmer than usual temperatures may have triggered an earthen dam to break at Rabbit Lake, sending more debris and water rushing down the creek. Vikalis says the municipality and the state are monitoring the situation.

“This is probably the most severe of the bridges right now that has the water going over it. So we’re watching this bridge pretty carefully. We’re gonna have to go in and inspect this particular bridge just to make sure it’s safe for travel. It probably has been compromised as a result. But we won’t know until we get in there.”

Edward Bosco is Chairman of the Birch Tree Elmore limited Road Service Area, which maintains roadways in the area. He says the culverts plugged up and it happened quick.

“The police called me out here at 9:15 this morning. And I came right down here and I talked with people who were down her at 8:30 and there was nothing crossing the road at that time. Evidently something cut loose and all the sudden it came down and plugged everything up quickly.”

Bosco says he’s already asked both the municipality and the state for help repairing the road. He estimates fixing the bridge will drain the Road Service Area bank account, and they’ll need help to get it back in shape.
Georgia Tulbert who lives across the bridge and uses it to get to and from town says, she anticipates taking the long way around for awhile.

“It’s gonna take a week or more to fix this. Even after they redirect the — They’re gonna have to redirect the creek and repair the road. So it’s quite a mess.”

Neighbors say three homes were evacuated, but so far there’s no word of any serious damage and no injuries reported.

Photos taken by Daysha Eaton near 140th Ave and Buffalo Road in Anchorage on June 14, 2013.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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