• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers: Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA - Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
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

  • Politics

    State lawmakers talk budget crisis, solutions with constituents at Anchorage caucus

    by Eric Ruble on Feb 25, 18:28

    The lawmakers representing people in Alaska’s largest city met with their constituents Saturday morning. Twenty Alaska state senators and representatives discussed issues facing the state at the Anchorage caucus at the new legislative information offices in Midtown. They divided into small groups led by a few lawmakers each and talked about a large number of issues. The […]

  • Weather

    Alaska Weather Forecast – Feb. 25, 2017

    by KTVA Weather on Feb 25, 18:23

    Mild temperatures and mostly cloudy skies continue this weekend with chances for snow Sunday and Monday. Get ready for much colder weather mid-week! Check out the full forecast for Alaska from Meteorologist Melissa Frey above. Follow KTVA 11’s Weather Team on Facebook and Twitter. Got a weather-related photo or story idea? Email the team at […]

  • Sports

    Alaska Aces have been family affair for Anchorage family

    by John Thompson on Feb 25, 18:08

    Tim Molle was a pioneer, an original member of the Anchorage Aces, a club team organized by current Dimond High School hockey head coach Dennis Sorenson. “We were pretty tight back then and we had a lot of fun playing the game,” Molle recalled. “We didn’t get paid when we were senior men’s, but it […]

  • News

    ISIS drones disrupt US-backed Iraqis’ fight for Mosul

    by David Martin / CBS News on Feb 25, 17:47

    On the outskirts of Mosul, Iraqi forces backed by the U.S. military are slowly taking ground from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. This past week, they retook the airport and started pushing deeper into Iraq’s second largest city. Day Seven of the battle for western Mosul and the Iraqis — by their […]

  • News

    Sushi restaurant closed after early morning fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 25, 17:11

    A sushi restaurant was forced to close indefinitely after an early morning fire caused smoke damage inside, according to owners. Sushi Yako, located on 3501 Old Seward Highway, was closed Saturday as its owners worked with an Anchorage fire investigator to determine the extent of the damage inside and potentially a cause of the fire, […]

  • Lifestyle

    PHOTOS: Aiming high at the 2017 Junior Native Youth Olympics

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 25, 16:59

    The Junior Native Youth Olympics kicked off Friday in Anchorage. Student athletes from schools around Alaska gather each year to represent not only their schools, but also their heritage by taking part in traditional Native games. One of the sports is the high kick, a game designed to test flexibility and agility as athletes attempt […]

  • Lifestyle

    A new atlas features Yup’ik place names

    by Katie Basile / KYUK on Feb 25, 13:44

    Calista Education and Culture, or CEC, a nonprofit organization, is working to collect traditional names and stories of places in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and share that knowledge with the region. To do that, they’re creating an interactive, online map of the Delta in Yup’ik and English, called the Yup’ik Atlas, according to a story published […]

  • Politics

    GOP draft Obamacare replacement aims to end insurance mandate

    by Associated Press on Feb 25, 13:19

    A draft Republican bill replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law would end its Medicaid expansion, scrap fines on people not buying insurance and eliminate taxes on the medical industry and higher earners. Instead, it would create tax credits worth up to $4,000, allow bigger contributions to personal health savings accounts and impose a new […]