More than a dozen Mat-Su Borough homeowners whose residences are threatened by the Matanuska River are receiving government funds to buy out their homes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will award $4.46 million in funds from a hazard mitigation grant requested by the borough later this month, according to a Thursday statement from the borough.

Flooding on the river, which flows past Sutton, Palmer and Butte into Knik Arm, has caused seasonal erosion and annual battles to save homes in the borough.

Gov. Bill Walker declared a state disaster due to the flooding in 2016. State road crews and Sutton residents that year tried to stop or slow the erosion, in efforts borough Assembly member Jim Sykes called a “Band-Aid.”

The grants will purchase 15 properties “at severe risk for erosion” from the river, including 10 in Butte along Mile 13 to Mile 17 of the Old Glenn Highway, as well as five more in Sutton from Mile 63.5 to Mile 65 of the Glenn Highway. Funding for the grants is 75 percent federal and 25 percent state.

“The state match is not always granted in other states,” said Mat-Su Borough floodplain administrator Taunnie Boothby, the grant’s project manager. “We’re fortunate the state of Alaska pays the cost share.”

Under the voluntary buyout, which has been agreed to by all of the property owners, the borough will classify the land as “open space in perpetuity” and prevent any new construction.

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