What others say: Rain makes good judgement imperative on Interior waters

  • Tuesday, August 12, 2014 3:46pm
  • Opinion

It’s been almost hard to recognize the Chena River this summer. Usually an easygoing stream that meanders through town lazily, the river this season has been transformed by persistent rain into something more closely resembling a miniature version of the Yukon. It’s swift, it’s deep, and there are few easy places to get out if you should fall in. As several people have learned this summer, that’s a dangerous combination.

There have been several well-publicized incidents this summer that highlight the potential dangers faced by those on the river as it swells to near flood stage — a pair of canoeists whose boat got sucked into a log jam around a Wendell Avenue bridge abutment and a man who jumped in from the pedestrian bridge just upstream from Pioneer Park and couldn’t get to shore spring to mind. And most recently, yesterday two men were seen in the river near Graehl Landing, with only one able to make it to shore. With water flowing swiftly at such high volumes, it’s easy to get into a lot of trouble in a hurry.

A few pieces of advice should be common sense for anyone on or around the river in its present state. For those in the vicinity of the river, be aware of your surroundings. Water has crept into areas you might not expect, as evidenced by the submerged pedestrian and bike path between the Cushman Street and Veterans Memorial bridges, and in other places the riverbank has become soggy and sometimes undercut by the current. For those that venture onto the river, life jackets — not just in your boat or watercraft but being worn by everyone on the water — are a necessity, as is a good understanding of where and how you plan to put in and take out.

Even when wearing flotation devices, if you find yourself in the water, taking proper action is imperative. It takes only minutes in the water before you start losing sensation and mobility in your extremities given the cold temperature of local rivers, and first responders estimate that survival time even if you stay afloat is no more than an hour. If you’re in the water, find a safe place to get out of the water and make sure you get there.

The Chena is usually a forgiving river, but in conditions like those we’ve experienced so far this summer, no river gives you much room for error. If you’re not confident of your abilities on or in the water, the best solution may be to stay on land when the water is high. And even if you are, make sure you’re prepared to deal with situations that you hope not to encounter. It’s always better to be ready for more than Mother Nature throws at you, especially in situations where fun can turn into trouble in a hurry.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

Aug. 8

More in Opinion

Anselm Staack (Courtesy Photo)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s fiscally irresponsible and deceptive plan

Constitutions are about broad policy objectives and legal boundaries — not about the day-to-day.

New direction for the Tongass will help grow businesses, a sustainable economy

Now is the time to chart a new course for Southeast’s future.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.