State Officials Monitor Potential Flooding
Heavy snowfall is causing flooding across the state
ALASKA - Breakup flooding isn't new to Alaskans. There was the historic flood in Crooked Creek last year and those who live in Salcha are certainly no strangers to floods, either.
“We are prepared for it because we have sand bags in piles around in case the water comes up,” said Kay Alich, a Salcha resident.
This year though they've had to use canoes to get home.
“We were paddling to get over to neighbors place, and we walked up from there,” said George Viltrakis, another Salcha resident who’s been using a canoe to get home.
National Weather Service officials said this year was slightly different in that area.
“The Tanana has had more snow this year than they have had the last several years, so there's probably a lot more water in the river,” said. Dr. Scott Lindsey, a hydrologist with the Weather Service. “Flooding may be a little bit worse this year than it has been.”
But there are other parts of the state that could see flooding, as well.
“The areas that were concerned about right now, the Kuskokwim River are the highest area of concern,” said Lindsey.
Weather Service officials said because of the annual freeze and thaw cycle and above-normal temperatures, ice jams are likely to form in areas along the major rivers.
“It all depends upon how quickly it warms up, thickness of ice, how much water is moving down river, how much snow is around all that’s going to contribute to whether or not there's going to be an issue,” said Claude Denver, one of the responders on the River Watch Program.
To help prepare communities, next week a group of teams plan to travel to areas of the state they believe are most at risk.
“ We’re prepared for the worst, hoping for the best, but primarily it is to save lives and protect property,” said Michael O’Hare, deputy director for the state’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
It’s all in an effort to help avoid a flood on the scale that the village of Crooked Creek suffered.