Kenai Peninsula Borough authorizes emergency declaration, prepares flood cleanup

Kenai Peninsula Borough authorized an emergency declaration on Thursday.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:21 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Significant flooding on the Kenai River has already impacted roughly 618 nearby homes, and prompted the Kenai Peninsula Borough to authorize an emergency declaration on Thursday.

“My utmost priority as the mayor of the KPB is the life, health, and safety of our residents. I will take any steps necessary within my authority and through our Emergency Management Team to respond and help mitigate damage to private and public property and the infrastructure we all count on daily,” Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche said in a statement on Thursday.

The borough says the declaration gives them the ability to start addressing areas affected.

“That, with approval from the governor, will allow us to have resources in addition to collaboration with other state agencies that can provide technical assistance and resources to address some of these damaged areas,” Brenda Ahlberg, the Emergency Manager for the Borough, said.

Officials say they need to wait for the water to recede on flooded roadways before it can take action — but once that occurs, the borough will begin water conveyance.

One family who has a cabin in the Kenai Keys area said they’re not sure how much damage their property will have. Gary Pennington said when his wife and he arrived at the cabin earlier, the water was 10 to 12 inches deep.

“It was up to my knees, up to her thighs. She didn’t realize walking in current water was that hard. It was a bit of a scary moment,” Pennington said. “We had to use a kayak and bring out some personal belongings.”

Pennington says his family was lucky — they had their cabin lifted up by three feet only two years ago. But he says they won’t know the extent of property damage until they return back to their cabin this week.

The borough has also submitted request for the governor to issue a disaster declaration in order to release additional recovery funds. A declaration from the state would also allow affected residents to apply for the state’s individual assistance program.