Neighbors save home from Matanuska River
It’s moving day for Terry Van Wyhe of Sutton, not that he had a choice. Rising water from the Matanuska River had eroded more of Van Wyhe’s land, forcing him to move, but he did not do it alone.
“The neighbors are the emergency response,” said Mike Pearson, one of the neighbors who helped save the structure. “If we wouldn’t have pulled it out, we’d have more debris in the river, it’s overrun with shard, metal objects, pieces of wood, houses.”
Van Wyhe says this is the fifth structure he has had to move because of erosion over the last three years. He’s not the only one upset, so is Mike Pearson.
“I am a little mad, the Borough got $2.5 million, don’t know how much they got, but they haven’t put anything in the river to help anybody,” said Pearon.
The Mat-Su Borough and the state of Alaska have spent roughly $3 million since the ’80s to protect this area from the river. KTVA’s calls to the borough regarding how it spent the money have not been returned. Neighbors said they experienced similar situation to ours and took matters into their own hands.
They installed tanks about three years to protect their land from erosion. Each one is 10 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and 50 feet long. That worked for about a year.
“That basically cost $3,000 to save our houses. The Borough got $2.5 million to do something and we haven’t seen anything,” said Pearson.
The head of the Mat-Su Borough’s Emergency Services did talk to KTVA about his plan to help.
“We have emergency authorities to do rescue in the river if that comes to pass, and provide whatever services are necessary to make sure we are caring for our folks,” said Otto Feather.
“If it wasn’t for our neighbors, we’d all be gone by now,” said Mike Pearson, as he and neighbors worry about lives and dreams washed away by turbulent waters of the Matanuska River.
Governor Bill Walker got a first hand look at the problems during his aerial tour on Wednesday. You may recall the governor declared an emergency to address the erosion problem in Butte last August.
No word yet, if the governor will take similar action in Sutton.