UPDATE: Mat-Su declares disaster after Willow Creek flooding forces evacuations, closes bridge

Deneki Bridge across Willow Creek surrounded by ice Dec. 22, 2019. (Stefan Hinman/Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

Update: 5 p.m.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has issued a local disaster declaration in response to “severe threats” from ice jam flooding at Willow Creek. The declaration, released Monday evening, requests state assistance and a corresponding emergency declaration from the governor’s office.

“The severity and magnitude of the flooding emergency is beyond the timely and effective response capability of the local resources,” the declaration states.

Original story

Flooding on Willow Creek Saturday night and Sunday has led to seven families being evacuated, with five people taking shelter at the Willow Community Center.

Late Saturday night, an ice jam caused water to rise. Matanuska-Susitna Borough Director of Emergency Services Ken Barkley says, as of Sunday afternoon, the flooding has directly impacted some homes, and others may be at risk.

“Three of the homes actually had water flowing through…so three of them do have some water damage,” he said. “The other homes are just in danger.  The water level has come up in their yards or around their vehicles, but not into the homes.”

No deaths or injuries have been reported as a result of the flooding.

On Saturday night, residences west of the Deneki Bridge were being evacuated. As of 3 p.m. Sunday, residences north of the bridge were being asked to leave the area. Barkley says the bridge will be impassible for the next few days until the situation stabilizes. Mechanical solutions to the flooding are being investigated. The bridge itself is closed, and borough officials say trying to cross it could be life-threatening.

Willow Fire Department, Mat-Su Animal Care and the Mat-Su Water Rescue Team responded to assist those impacted by the flood. Assistance is being offered to those attempting to leave the area as well as those attempting to re-enter during daylight hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number to call for those seeking assistance is 907-355-9819. After that time, those needing assistance should call 911 with your location and the number of people and animals needing evacuation.

The American Red Cross shelter at the Willow Community Center remains open to those unable to remain in their homes, according to a Monday press release from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Water rescue personnel near the area flooded by Willow Creek over the weekend of Dec. 21, 2019. (Courtesy of the Mat-Su Borough)