Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Two shelters close, one open

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Friday, August 18, 2006

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER-Just off a Lifeguard Alaska helicopter flight, Battalion Chief Kirk Gibbs brushes the rain off his jacket and gives a quick overview of what he saw on a reconnaissance flight over the Little Susitna River at about 9 pm, Saturday.

"Where it jumped its banks the water is really spreading out," Gibbs said. "The Sleepy Hollow golf course is under water," he said of the course outside Wasilla.

Gibbs flew with the Providence helicopter crew from the base of Hatcher Pass to the Houston bridge at the Parks Highway. Along the stretch, some rip rap that was placed along a bend south of the Hatcher Bridge seems to be doing its job, he said. The N. Palmer-Fishhook Road appears protected from the swollen river. The Edgerton Parks Bridge seemed okay, he said. Nearby off Little Otter Drive two people were in a washout area, holed up in their house, protecting it with sandbags. Big, fallen trees are creating logjams and snags in various spots, backing up a surge of water behind them. Of particular concern, Gibbs said, was a big bend where water had sloughed off the banks quite a bit and could spread more. Those homes along Holobinko and N. Baldy Mountain Drive might need protection if the water keeps rising, he added.
Overall he said it didn't look like anyone was in immediate danger of being washed out along the Little Su.

The National Weather Service continues to forecast rain for the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys and a flood warning remains in effect until Sunday. The Weather Service cautions that the ground is saturated in many places and although the rain is predicted to taper off to scattered showers, local flooding is still a possibility. Little Willow Creek jumped onto the Parks Highway late this (Sat.) evening.

As of 9 pm residents in Talkeetna are asking for more sandbags. A second and third load of filled sandbags are on the way to Houston and Talkeetna. No more sandbags remain at the Central Landfill. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has offered 5,000 unfilled sandbags. Volunteers are wanted for shoveling.

The shelter at Larson Elementary is shutting down as day two of heavy rains and intermittent flooding draws to a close in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Five people were staying there. The Willow Community Center is still open. The shelter outside Talkeetna at Su Valley High also shut down.

Yesterday, the JROTC students from Colony High were among the many volunteers who played a critical role in this declared state disaster. The students shoveled sand into 120 bags that were later given to people trying to protect their homes in Houston and Talkeetna.

The Parks Highway remains closed at mile 121. At mile 133 a bridge is compromised and only locals are getting past mile 121.

A State Disaster Declaration means that the Borough can request State resources including personnel and funding to assist in responding to the flood emergency. State resources will be essential in the recovery effort yet to come.

A toll-free number has been set up at the State's Emergency Coordination Center for residents who need individual assistance in recovering from the floods. The phone is answered by staff during regular business hours. The number is 1-800-921-6382.

Earlier press releases contain additional information and can be seen at