Flooding in Kenai Peninsula Continues
Kenai River closed to boating as waters rise
KENAI PENINSULA - Lately it seems like no matter where you go in Southcentral Alaska you can’t avoid the floods.
“Talkeetna was flooded. We were going to do the zipline but they had to evacuate Talkeetna,” said Rick King, who was visiting from Butte, Montana.
The Kenai Peninsula is the latest under a flood watch as the Kenai River rises high above flood stage. Cooper Landing residents say it was 16 feet at the bridge on Monday, but had dropped six inches on Tuesday.
An emergency order on Monday closed the river to all boating, which means businesses like Alaska Rivers Company have had to cancel trips.
“Right now I don't see how we'd even do it. It's a little too high to deal with operations right now,” said Jeremy Lewis.
Lewis says closing the river is what’s best for customers. “It's not safe at all. If you haven't been on the river before it's pretty fast out there and there's a lot of rapids. It's pretty dangerous.”
Near Soldotna the Big Eddy subdivision was also under several feet of water. Many residents moved their valuables out of the flood plain then evacuated.
Jim Nelson owns the Kenai Riverfront Resort, which has a couple campsites under water. “There have been some humpys swimming in our boat launch which is the campsite next to the fence. That’s our closest campsite to the river… a little too close right now,” Nelson laughs.
His property is right on the floodplain boundary, so what the waters rise it creates a lake in his back yard. His twin 11-year old boys Cooper and Taylor are taking advantage of the nature-made pool.
“Just earlier this summer we had tents down there and stuff and now it's pretty much a lake. It's pretty crazy,” said Cooper.
Heavy rain is also responsible for taking out a 100-foot section of Kalifornsky Beach Road. The Department of Transportation says there was so much water the underground culvert collapsed in on itself. The water eroded the ground and created a giant sinkhole that gave way Friday morning.
The road is closed at milepost 11, and DOT doesn’t know how long it will be before it opens. Fortunately Kalifornsky is a loop so businesses and homes aren’t completely cut off, but the closure will definitely have an impact.
“We have Marathon and EnStar that have a big presence here so it's pretty inconvenient for them as well as for the school buses that have to take a 45 mile trek around to get kids from right here to Soldotna area schools,” said Carl High, the Peninsula District Superintendent.
The first step to getting the road fixed is to get a new pipe cut and refill the dirt before the road can be paved. High says crews will hopefully set up an access road around the construction site soon.