The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday voted to extend until Oct. 24 the local disaster emergency issued on Sept. 14 in response to high water and flooding events around the borough.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Emergency Manager Brenda Ahlberg wrote in a Sept. 19 memo to assembly members that the initial declaration was set to expire on Sept. 21. However, response and recovery efforts, she wrote, continue and will require ongoing use of borough resources.
The declaration issued by Borough Mayor Peter Micciche last week attributed the flooding to “unprecedented precipitation,” elevated groundwater levels and the release of glacial dams, which he said has damaged public and private infrastructure. It requests assistance from state and federal partners, including a declaration of disaster by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
“This high water and flooding disaster emergency threatens the life, health, and safety of borough residents, and damage to property and public infrastructure, and requires streamlined contracting and procurement procedures,” the declaration says.
The declaration also specifically calls out severe flooding in the northwest area of Kalifornsky Beach Road. Residents in that area have reported flooded septics and basements and have called on the borough to do more to help alleviate the problem.
Micciche has maintained that the borough has limited powers when it comes to flood response, and told attendees at a public community meeting in August that the borough had not yet reached the financial threshold needed for a disaster declaration.
Declaring a disaster, Micciche said during a candidate forum held in Homer last week, frees up $100,000 in borough money that can be used to help respond to flood impacts. Declaration of an emergency by Dunleavy’s office would free up additional state money that could be used to provide direct relief to residents, Micciche said.
Tuesday’s assembly meeting will be available to stream on the borough’s website at kpb.legistar.com.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.