A voluntary evacuation is underway in Ketchikan, with a mandatory evacuation expected around 3 am Sunday, in areas below Ketchikan Lakes Dam.
Officials say with rainfall continuing through the night, the dam may be breached and may fail, which would cause a flash flood down Ketchikan Creek, which goes through a central portion of Ketchikan.
The Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center ordered everyone in the Ketchikan Creek area to evacuate to higher ground. This includes properties on Park Avenue, Harris Street, Freeman Street, Totem Drive, Nickey Way, Salmon Row, Woodland Avenue, Deermount Street (above Woodland Ave), Creek Street, and some areas East of Bawden Street (on Dock Street, Mission Street and Mill Street).
First responders are now going door-to-door asking residents to pack a bag and evacuate for between 48-72 hours.
“As of 4 pm today the reservoir behind Ketchikan Lakes Dam had reached moderate flood stage at 350 feet of elevation. Water levels are forecast to continue to rise and reach 351 feet by approximately 3am. At 351 feet water will be above the dam’s core which could lead to erosion of the dam structure and potential dam failure,” the EOC warned. The potential is for extreme flooding with no notice.
The Borough Transit Bus will be available for anyone needing transportation to the Recreation Center. Starting at 6 pm buses will make one or more passes (depending on conditions) going down Park Avenue to Bawden St., turning left onto Mill St. to Creek St., heading south on Stedman and turning left up Deermount, before proceeding to the Rec Center. Those needing to flag down the bus are advised to use their phone flashlight or other light to draw attention to the driver.
Rain is expected to continue through the next 24 hours in the town of 8,300 people. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough has about 14,000 residents.