• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 20s

Mat-Su Borough seeks fed money to buy flood-prone homes

By Alexis Fernandez Photojournalist: John Thain - 8:48 PM July 9, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

For decades, residents in the Butte area have been dealing with ongoing flooding. The Matanuska River has been unforgiving, chewing at its banks and at times, taking homes with it.

Amir Lena has called Butte home for seven years. He lives along the Matanuska River, where he runs a family business.

“I love it here, to live and to build a future, like I started. I want to be at the end of my life here,” Lena said.

But over the past few years, his view of the river has been changing.

“There was like 30 feet of road here between the dike and the trees and now it’s gone,” he said.

His home is just one of several between Mile 13 and 15 of the Old Glenn Highway being slowly washed away.

More than 20 years ago, the state built a 3,000-foot dike along the east side of the Matanuska River to help protect against flooding and erosion. Now, only two-thirds of the dike remains and it’s still washing away.

So far, the river has swallowed about 750 feet of land.

Lena believes something could’ve been done to prevent this from happening.

“When I moved here they told me they’re going to maintain it, they told us … Borough maintains the dike and the state, where they are? Nowhere,” he said.

But Dennis Brodigan, director of emergency services with the Mat-Su Borough, says there’s not much he can do.

“We can’t get into the water, can’t do anything in the water, both because of the volume number one. Number two, because of the legality of it. We don’t have the right to come and do anything with this water,” he said.

Brodigan says only the state has authority — and all it can do is put a Band-Aid on the problem.

“It’s a terrible situation to be in,” he said.

He says some neighborhoods have formed erosion service areas. Homeowners can tax themselves in order to build their own dikes instead of waiting for assistance. Butte decided to opt out.

Brodigan says it’s too dangerous to continue having homes near the river. That’s why borough officials are in the process of applying for a grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help buy out nearly 30 homes in areas prone to flooding.

“The endgame solution is not to keep throwing money at it year after year, losing the battle to Mother Nature, but to just get the people out of the area,” he said.

Although that reality could be years away, residents like Lena are already preparing to move before nature decides for them.

“We’re going to move if we have to,” he said.

The borough is expecting to complete their application by next spring and hopes to have a have an answer from FEMA by summer.

Latest Stories

  • News

    In Kenai, search continues for missing family

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 30, 22:46

    Kenai police are making a last push to find a missing family of four and their dog. Rebecca Adams, her two daughters and her boyfriend, Brandon Jividen, have been missing since late May. Kenai police conducted what could be their last search for the family Thursday. They focused their efforts on the large wooded area […]

  • News

    LNG project open house draws large crowd, many questions

    by Dave Leval on Oct 30, 22:39

    It’s the biggest project for the state since the trans-Alaska pipeline. Backers of a proposed LNG pipeline hope they have more support for it. People packed the Crowne Plaza of Anchorage for the latest open house Thursday. The Alaska LNG Project would build a gas liquefaction plant near Prudhoe Bay. The natural gas would then travel […]

  • News

    Judge rules on National Guard document release

    by Emily Carlson on Oct 30, 21:30

    On Friday, Alaskans will get a glimpse into what Gov. Sean Parnell knew about the Alaska National Guard scandal, and when he knew it. Thursday afternoon, a Superior Court judge ruled the state must provide a detailed log of hundreds of pages of emails by Friday at noon. Judge Greg Miller lectured state attorneys on Alaska […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Oct. 30

    by KTVA Weather on Oct 30, 20:06

    Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound: It will be turning mostly cloudy along the coast with a chance of snow and rain by afternoon. Western Kenai will have mostly dry conditions tomorrow. Southeast: There will be rain showers for the panhandle. Interior/Slope: The Interior will have mostly cloudy skies with a flurry or two. Heavy snow […]

  • News

    Keeping kids safe on Halloween

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 30, 19:20

    The key to Halloween safety starts with the costume, and Dooley’s Tuxedos and Costumes in Anchorage has dozens of options for little ones. Many manufacturers have avoided adding masks and instead found a unique way to create characters. “We have a lot of ones that come with the hoods,” explained owner Starla Heim. “They don’t want […]

  • News

    ConocoPhillips unveils shrinking capital budget plans

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 30, 18:10

    While oil giant ConocoPhillips announced a reduced capital budget during a Thursday earnings call, a spokeswoman for the company said there are no plans to decrease spending in Alaska. “Capital reductions reflect the tapering off of major project spending as well as reductions in some of our less mature unconventional areas,” said Amy Burnett, a […]

  • Politics

    Campaign 2014: Forrest Dunbar

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 30, 16:14

    This week, KTVA is running a series of interviews with the main candidates for office. Today, the focus is on Forrest Dunbar. He grew up in rural Alaska, became a wildland firefighter and a fisherman, joined the Peace Corps and wound up with degrees from Harvard and Yale. Quite the resume for a 30-year-old guy, […]

  • News

    Survey ranks Alaska low in energy efficiency

    by Associated Press on Oct 30, 14:32

    A new survey on how states are improving energy efficiency programs ranks Alaska near the bottom. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has been tracking energy inefficiencies for eight years. It issues an annual survey on whether states are making progress. This year’s survey ranked Alaska 47th in the nation. Much of Alaska’s low […]