Areas of Seward were hit with severe flooding as heavy rain and high winds moved through the area over the weekend.
“Seward experiences a lot of flooding events, especially this time of year, but this one has come on fast and has led to water levels higher than we’ve seen in recent memory,” Dan Nelson, emergency manager for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, said.
Heavy equipment operators spent Friday and Saturday repairing the berms along Sawmill Creek, Salmon Creek, Lost Creek, Japanese Creek and Kwechak Creek, which had been damaged or washed away as a result of the rising waters, Nelson said.
In a video posted to the KPB Alerts Facebook page at 1:20 p.m. Saturday, Bud Sexton with the Office of Emergency Management showed the extent of the flooding that occurred at Kwechak Creek, which prompted OEM to put residents of Bruno Road into “ready status,” preparing them for potential evacuation.
“If you take a look at this levee system right here, this, to give you a perspective, was about 25 feet wide this same time yesterday,” Sexton said in the video. “And it was taller than I am right here. So that’s how much sediment was washed out from late yesterday (Friday) overnight.”
The rain did not let up on Saturday, which Nelson said makes the job of the heavy equipment operators more difficult.
“The frustrating thing is losing all the work that you’ve done overnight,” Nelson. “You can come back to an area in the morning that you spent the whole day repairing, and it’s like you didn’t do any work at all.”
Seward is located in an alluvial fan, which means that gravel and sediment is constantly accumulating in the waterways as it flows down from higher altitudes. Because of this, Nelson said the main goal of the heavy equipment operators is to remove the excess sediment from the waterways while also building up the berms that are eroding as the flooding occurs.
No major damage, injuries or evacuations have been reported as of Saturday, but Nelson said that residents of Seward should be constantly monitoring conditions in their area, especially if living near a creek or body of water, and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
“Make sure you have a full tank of gas and a bag packed,” Nelson said.
In video posted at about 5:30 p.m., Sexton provided an update from the Box Canyon.
“If you take a look around, you can see that there is still a substantial amount of water pouring through the Box Canyon area and all throughout Seward,” Sexton said. “So we continue to have heavy equipment operators all throughout the Seward area … that are really making a difference.”
Initially, the flooding caused Dieckgraeff Road — which leads to the transfer site in Seward — to be inaccessible. Dumpsters were placed in the city lot adjacent to Dieckgraeff Road on Friday. Nelson said Saturday evening that, while the road is technically open, it has sustained damage. Nelson recommended continuing to use the dumpsters in the city lot for the next few days until repairs can be made.
As of 7 p.m. Saturday, Nelson said that the water levels had begun to recede in some areas, but there was still plenty of movement happening. Additional machinery will be brought in Sunday morning to continue repair and mitigation work that Nelson said will be similar to what was done Saturday.