The city of Seward has declared a state of emergency Wednesday, in response to widespread flooding in the area.
According to city clerk Johanna Kinney, city manager James Hunt made the decision at about 1:15 p.m.. Flooding has been reported in town at the Phoenix/Chiswell area, Dieckgraeff Road, Lowell Creek Waterfall and Port Avenue.
Road closures in Seward include Lowell Point Road, which has closed due to a landslide, a National Park Service closure of Exit Glacier Road at the Mile 7 gate, Port Road and portions of Dieckgraeff Road. Traffic advisories have been issued for all local roads.
Alaska Department of Transportation spokesperson Rick Feller says one of the Seward airport’s two runways has been closed after it was topped by water.
“Residents of the Seward area are urged to limit travel today and stay home if possible due to the high winds and rain in the area that has caused water to inundate road ways,” Kinney wrote.
Marshall Ronne Jr., a Seward resident since 1948, says his driveway was washed away by waters he described as "the very worst flooding I've ever seen" Wednesday.
Additional areas of concern near town include the Salmon and Old Mill creeks, as well as Mile 4.5 to 5 of the Seward Highway and Mile 3.5 of the highway's bike path.
Feller says DOT inspectors have responded to both the runway closure and the highway, but no closures have been reported on the Seward Wednesday. He urged motorists throughout Southcentral Alaska to consult DOT's road-closures website and exercise caution on roads, given the likelihood of additional flooding in both Seward and the region.
“The risk of flooding is likely to worsen before it improves,” Feller said.
Seward officials are posting emergency updates and providing email and text alerts through a city website. The city’s Emergency Operations Center has also established three phone lines at 224-4041, 224-4043 and 224-4044 to report flooding, power outages and other events.
Any residents experiencing an emergency should call Seward police at 911.
Contact Chris Klint