It has been two weeks since wind, rain, and flooding devastated Southcentral Alaska. While the weather has calmed down for now, residents in Butte are worried about what the future holds now that their once welcome neighbor has become a menacing threat.
According to Dale Peterson of Butte, he’s never seen the Matanuska as high and powerful as it is right now.
“In all my years I’ve never seen this river look like the Copper River,” Peterson says. “And the Copper River is one nasty river.”
The Matanuska River has already claimed several structures this year due to unusually heavy rain fall. Dale believes that heavy rainfall has caused the river to change course.
“What this river is doing being a braided river it’s eroding,” says Peterson. “What it’s going to do is take a new course of path and go right straight through our property and find its own new course.”
That new course has Dale fearing that if something doesn’t get done shortly, everyone with property along the banks is going to be homeless.
For now, Butte residents believe that the state and federal agencies are dragging their feet and not doing enough to help solve the problem.
“Everybody wants to pass the buck,” Peterson says. “We’re willing to go fix the river ourselves like our grandfathers did and they’re tying our hands.”
While local Mat-Su Borough officials are sympathetic to the flooding issues property owners face, the necessary steps to solve the problem aren’t so simple.
“Unfortunately the mitigation process is just that,” said Casey Cook, Mat-Su Borough Emergency Manager. “It’s a process so you have to step through those hurdles and those hoops to get federal state local agencies to sign off on any plan.”
As for the future, with more rain expected, only time will tell to see what’s next for those who call the banks of the Matanuska home.
“We have not seen the brunt of this yet,” said Peterson. “What’s up there is coming down stream.”
Contact Blake Essig