Homeowners along the Kenai River fight rising flood waters

Homeowners along the Kenai River deal with flooding from rising water levels
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 5:51 PM AKDT
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STERLING, Alaska (KTUU) - Property owners along low-lying areas of the Kenai River have been asked to secure their personal belongings like boats, propane tanks, and even picnic tables to make sure they don’t float away in the swollen river.

The Kenai has been running high ever since two glacier dammed lakes emptied into the river over the last few days.

In the Kenai Keys subdivision near Sterling, the river is lapping at the doorsteps of the hundred or so homes that line the river. Longtime resident Frank Turpin said although he’s seen worse flooding, this one is significant. The road leading into the gated subdivision is flooded in numerous places although some vehicles can still make it through. Neighbors who live on higher ground have offered their yards for people wishing to store cars or other items until the waters recede.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s emergency manager Brenda Ahlberg said several neighborhoods are impacted by the high waters including Kenai Keys and neighborhoods off of Salmon Run Drive in Funny River. Further downstream in the Big Eddy area near Soldotna, property owners are also experiencing the effects of the swollen river. Ahlberg urged people to consider avoiding motorized boating until the river recedes to safe levels.

On Wednesday, the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation instituted a “no wake zone” on the north side of the river near Kenai Keys to last through 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15. In a release, the department said boat wakes have become more of a concern as impacts to the riverbanks and personal property continue from the high waters.

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association is also urging people in motorized vessels to avoid the area where flooding is most prevalent, particularly near the Kenai Keys neighborhood in the middle portion of the river and the Big Eddy area on the lower Kenai. In a release, the organization said it has cancelled the fishing portion of an event that was scheduled for Sept.15, which it said will remove 27 motorized vessels from the lower Kenai River.