Elderly couple fears erosion will destroy Alaskan home

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SUTTON, Alaska (KTUU) - Val Musial, 90, and her 94-year-old husband, Ed, built their home near Sutton back in the 1950s, and they planned to live out their days there.

That dream is on the brink of washing away.

Erosion caused by the Matanuska River has brought rushing water right to their back door.

"I tell you, when I go to bed at night, if I hear something strange, I jump up out of bed and look to see what disappeared (into the river)," Musial said. "I don't think I'm going to be able to stay here much longer. It scares me to death."

Musial says the couple used to have 50-feet of back yard, and the river channel was hundreds of feet beyond that. Erosion has destroyed all of that land, and the river water now rushes just 3-feet away from the back of their house.

The Musials say dikes, which were built back in the 1980s to try to shift the river flow, collapsed and made the erosion problem worse.

"I wouldn't wish this on anyone - no one," Musial said, while holding back tears.

Mat-Su Borough officials say they don't have authority over erosion control. Governor Bill Walker flew over the area Wednesday, but state officials say naturally-occurring erosion doesn't qualify for a disaster declaration.

"It’s a very sad situation - we understand that," said Jeremy Zidek, spokesman for the Alaska Div of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness. "It's not that people aren’t doing things and aren’t trying to help these folks. It’s just that the funding resources are sparse, and we can only use the programs that we have to use for these issues."

Erosion problems have plagued the area for years. A family cabin downstream from the Musial's home, built in the 1940s, collapsed and washed away earlier this week.

The Musial say they try to stay in their home for as long as they can. The couple says if their home is destroyed, they will try to buy a small trailer to live in, on their remaining property.