Gov. Mike Dunleavy was scheduled to be at a forum with three other Republican gubernatorial contestants on Saturday evening in Palmer, but instead was flying to Fairbanks to survey the Tanana River flooding in Manley Hot Springs, where 50-74 people who live in low-lying areas have been relocated to higher ground.
The governor declared a state disaster declaration for Manley and state and tribal officials are keeping a close eye on other river communities, such as Circle, as jammed ice poses a risk of further flooding. The declaration directs all State of Alaska agencies to respond to this event. The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is coordinating response efforts directly with Department of Public Safety and Tanana Chiefs Conference.
“We knew the potential for flooding this year was significant, and my Administration has been on alert and prepared to respond immediately to these events as they unfold,” Dunleavy said. “I want to thank Chairman Brian Ridley and the Tanana Chiefs Conference for their rapid response to the situation. TCC is working directly with the State EOC to ensure a coordinated effort to support the individuals and families impacted by this historic event.”
An emergency manager from the State EOC is deploying to the area tomorrow to assist in coordinating flood fighting, evacuation, and sheltering operations as necessary. In addition, Civil Air Patrol and National Weather Service conducted an overflight of the community today. The Alaska State Troopers also conducted aerial observations of the flooding.
The governor is also monitoring ice jam conditions along the Kuskokwim River near Crooked Creek, and the beginning of breakup on the upper Yukon River near Eagle and Circle. Should additional communities be impacted by ice jam flooding, the disaster declaration will be amended to support response and recovery operations.
The flooding in Manley is said to be the worst since the 1950s. The power is out in the community and nighttime temperatures will be in the 30s. Some people have been sheltered at the Manley Hot Springs Lodge.
Earlier Saturday, the National Weather Service had issued the flood warning.
“An ice jam has formed on the Tanana River downstream from Manley Hot Springs,” the agency wrote. “River observer in Manley Hot Springs reported significant flooding in Manley Hot Springs as water continues to rise along with ice flowing up through the slough. The observer reported that almost all roads in Manley are flooded and that several houses on the slough bank have water either in or surrounding them. Water is over the Elliott Highway across from the Manley Hot Springs bathhouse.”
The flood warning remains in effect until 6 pm Sunday.