Seward prepares for emergency declaration as flooding continues

Excavators and other heavy machinery are being used around Seward to clear gravel and debris washed down from the mountains by heavy rains. (Photo courtesy of Kenai Peninsula Borough)

The city of Seward is prepared to make an emergency declaration following several days of heavy rainfall and flooding. The city council will meet Friday to vote on the formal declaration.

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In the meantime, city and borough crews along with local contractors have been working overtime to give all of that rainwater somewhere to go. As the borough’s emergency manager Dan Nelson told the assembly during a special meeting Wednesday, the problem isn’t too much water, it’s all the debris the water washes toward Resurrection Bay.

“In the Seward area, when we have these high velocity flood waters, when we have these things coming down from the mountains, that is also carrying gravel and debris,” Nelson said. “What that does in Seward is that tends to fill that existing channel with debris. We still have a water channel that has to move somewhere, so that causes those streams to meander and of course, typically those streams start meandering into areas where we have our roads, bridges and resident’s homes.”

The city and the borough have deployed a lot of heavy machinery around stream beds near roads and bridges to clear out accumulated debris and give the water a more clear path to the bay. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved releasing half a million dollars in emergency funds to help protect its assets outside the city. In a memo to the borough, Seward’s interim city manager Jeff Bridges said their declaration will remain open as the current weather system moves through. Crews have been at work since Friday. Nearly five inches of rain have fallen since Monday with more expected into the weekend.

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Shaylon Cochran is a host and reporter at KDLL in Kenai. He’s reported on fishing, energy, agriculture and local politics since coming to Alaska in 2011. He has worked at KDLL/KBBI on the Kenai Peninsula, where he picked up lots of new hobbies, like smoking salmon, raising chickens, skiing and counting RV’s. He holds a bachelors degree in Journalism from Iowa State University.

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