Severe Flooding Potential is Very High for Rural Communities
Roundtable discussion talks about breakup
ANCHORAGE - The potential for severe flooding in rural Alaska will probably be very high in late April or early May, according to a federal official.
That was part of a roundtable discussion about the upcoming breakup, held Thursday morning by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski.
Flooding is a fact of life in the spring in many rural communities, but because of record and near-record snowfalls throughout the state, Bush residents might have more to contend with than usual.
Murkowski brought state and federal officials together for a statewide live-streamed discussion about the spring flood potential.
The projections from the national oceanic and atmospheric administration aren't comforting. "If we continue to have cool temperatures throughout April, each day that occurs we will have a greater chance of having severe flooding,” said Scott Lindsey of NOAA.
The problem, in such areas as along the Kuskokwim River, is that a sudden melt looks likely.
Although the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is prepared to help, the agency expects communities and individuals to be prepared.
"Make sure that your neighbors are taken care of, those special needs folks in your communities are taken care of,” said Mike O’Hare. “It's the individual's responsibility in a community to make sure that their evacuation plan, their personal evacuation plans, are in place."
Murkowski said in the event of a disaster, she is cautiously optimistic about federal relief funds.
"Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat from the South or the East, the recognition is we've got to figure out a way to fund it. It’s not easy. But we always seem to be able to come through with it. Not without a lot of hand-wringing, though."
With a more gradual melt likely in Anchorage, no severe problems are expected, according to NOAA.
But if you have a lot of snow in your yard Lindsey has some tips for you. "Dig a trench away from your home. Give the water a place to escape so that it can go someplace other than the ground right next to the foundation. But if you normally have water in your crawl place, make sure your sump pump is working because the ground water levels will be very high."
That strategy was attempted several decades ago and the conclusion was that it didn't do any good. The jams are not just a single spot that can be removed, but a natural infrastructure in long sections of rivers.
To watch the full roundtable discussion click here.