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

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Voices of the Peninsula: Get out there and Vote!

The League of Women Voters on the Kenai and Kenai Peninsula Votes created this voter guide for the mayoral election

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Capitol
Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

tt
Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

1
Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…