Residents take stock of damage as floodwaters recede in Manley Hot Springs

High waters surround buildings
Manley Hot Springs on Saturday, May 7, 2022. (Alaska State Troopers)

Water began receding in the Interior Alaska community of Manley Hot Springs Sunday afternoon after the release of an ice jam led to major flooding over the weekend.

The jam on the Tanana River happened Saturday. National Weather Service hydrologist Ed Plumb flew over the area that day with the Civil Air Patrol as flood waters rose. 

Sabrina and Kobi Jervsjo’s yard in Manley Hot Springs. (Jervsjo family)

“Maybe 90% of the community was inundated with water, at varying depths,” Plumb said. “Most of the roads had water over them. Many structures and homes had water either around them or under them, and it was hard to tell from the air how many were impacted with water actually inside the homes.”

Manley resident Sabrina Jervsjo estimates that about 40 homes were affected by the flood in the community west of Fairbanks.

“Our home is probably a total loss, along with many other homes in Manley,” she said.   

Jervsjo said there’s damage from the water, and even worse, fuel spills.

“I think everybody in Manley Hot Springs purchased heating fuel before the cost went up, plus their summer’s gas, and it stinks so bad like fuel,” she said. “It’s just a sheen across everywhere.”

Jervsjo said a majority of the community’s 80-plus residents evacuated to higher ground, and many are staying at the Manley Hot Springs Resort property.

“They just called us and told us, ‘Everybody just go up there and sleep, as many people as you can into the cabins.’ And a few people brought campers,” Jervisjo said. “Pam Redington opened up her home, and she has a couple other cabins that she opened up. And people with dogs — she opened up and let people put dogs in kennels.”  

Jersvso said the evacuees are so far well-supplied.

“We’re all great on the food and water department where we are staying up here at the resort. The owners just brought us a truckload of food,” she said. 

As of Sunday, the community’s power, phone lines and cell service were still down. 

The Tanana Chiefs Conference and the state have responded to Manley Hot Springs to provide assistance. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has declared a disaster for the area and visited the community with a food delivery Sunday.  

High waters surround buildings
Manley Hot Springs on Saturday, May 7, 2022. (Alaska State Troopers)

Plumb, of the weather service, said the ice that jammed below Manley has flushed downstream toward the village of Tanana.  

“At this point it doesn’t seem like its going to be enough water to cause any sort of flooding, and also the ice that was backed up behind that ice jam was really small little chunks and pans,” Plumb said. “By the time it gets down to Tanana, it’s probably going to be even smaller pieces, so we are not anticipating that to cause any significant flooding.”

Tanana is located where the Tanana River flows into the Yukon River. There’s still concern about ice jam flooding on the Yukon. The breakup front moved past Circle early Monday. Meanwhile, cooler temperatures and mixed rain and snow have moved into the broader region.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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