AK floods damage hundreds of homes

Water level begins to drop in rivers around Fairbanks but not before foods damage hundreds of homes.

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | FAIRBANKS, AK | August 4, 2008


BANK FULL -- Rivers in and around Fairbanks are the highest they have been in more than 40 years, causing major flooding.
Credit: Alaska State Police

The worst flooding in more than 40 years has damaged hundreds of homes here and while the river levels have begun to drop, weather forecasters say more rain is on the way.

"We're having major flooding," said Sallie Stuvek, Public Information Officer for the Fairbanks North Star Borough said Friday afternoon, adding the river levels this week have been the highest since 1967. Following major flooding that year, the Army Corps of Engineers built a flood control project to protect the downtown.

Jim Whitaker, Borough Mayor, has requested state and federal disaster declarations.

"Substantial damage is occurring due to high water and river current on the Tanana River, the Salcha River and the Chena River, resulting in damage to over 500 private residences. . ." according to a disaster declaration signed by the mayor Thursday night.

On Monday, emergency officials reported ground water saturation and some new basement flooding in the area to the southeast of Fairbanks known as North Pole.

Fuel and other pollutants have been spilled into the rivers prompting local officials to prepare public service announcements warning of the potential dangers in the water, Stuvek said.

Local churches have been assisting emergency officials by providing volunteers to help those whose homes were flooded.

Assessment teams are expected to try and determine the actual number of homes damaged as the rivers recede this week. The borough's disaster declaration has asked for housing assistance for more than 100 residents that are not expected to be able to return home following the flooding.


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