The Kenai Peninsula Borough spent almost $78,000 responding to flooding events during the areawide disaster declaration in effect between Sept. 14 and Oct. 24. Just over $40,000 worth of expenses have already been paid, while roughly $37,000 is still pending.
Most of the disaster funds spent by the borough during the flood emergency — about 87.3% — were spent in the Kalifornsky Beach Road area and included ditching, culvert cleaning and welding, among other things. Roughly $3,000 worth of gravel work was conducted in the Big Eddy area in Ridgeway, which also experienced severe flooding.
The borough maintains a fund of $100,000 that exists exclusively to hold money that is used to respond to disasters. When money from that fund is spent, the assembly can then replenish it in case any other disasters occur before the end of the fiscal year.
Assembly members during their Nov. 7 meeting agreed to replenish the account in the amount of $80,516. Kenai Peninsula Borough Emergency Manager Brenda Ahlberg said Tuesday via email, however, that the borough actually only spent about $78,000.
“The total response costs were actually … less than originally forecasted,” Ahlberg wrote. “We will provide a memo in the mayor’s 12/12/23 report indicating total response costs at $77,736.53.”
In issuing the initial disaster declaration, Borough Mayor Peter Micciche cited “unprecedented precipitation,” elevated groundwater levels and the release of glacial dams, all of which he said had damaged public or private infrastructure. Issuance of the declaration freed up the $100,000 in disaster money for the borough to use to respond to the flood events.
Many in the northwest area of Kalifornsky Beach Road reported flooded septics and basements, said they were pumping water out of their homes around the clock or otherwise experienced negative impacts as a result of high water levels. The borough is in active litigation with one resident who dug his own trenches as a way to divert water and heard calls for relief from residents at a community meeting.
Micciche’s office considered seeking an additional disaster declaration from the State of Alaska, but ultimately did not do so because the borough spent less than $100,000 responding to the flood events.
Borough emergency funds cannot be used to provide direct relief to residents affected by flooding, but the borough said residents who experienced more than $10,000 worth of property damage could apply for an abatement of their property taxes.