Dozens of people gathered in Butte Wednesday night to discuss recent flooding issues and how to prevent future problems. Borough officials met with the Butte Community Council and residents of the area to see what can be done for those who live along the Matanuska River.
Residents of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough are still trying to recover from September flooding that devastated some in the area. About 168 people were affected in the Mat-Su Valley; 24 families asked for temporary housing, and there are still three people being housed in emergency housing.
“We’re waiting for the FEMA declaration to reach the President’s desk and for him to either sign off on that or not,” said Mat-Su Borough Emergency Manager Casey Cook.
Cook says that if the President doesn’t sign the declaration, it becomes a state emergency management situation where the state will have to step up and help with the recovery cost.
For now, the borough is looking to other methods of mitigation to prevent further issues.
“Anything from rebuilding dikes to levee systems to looking at the dredging of the river,” Cook said. “We’re looking at anywhere up to property acquisition. We’re looking at moving people to different properties.”
Mat-Su Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss has plans to see erosion, air quality and fish habitats improve through a river management program.
“My ambition hasn’t changed,” said DeVilbiss. “I want to see the Matanuska River turned into an asset and not a liability.”
For now, residents hope that people realize something has to be done.
“If they don’t do something with this river,” Butte resident Pat Huddleson said. “If they don’t at least dig a relief channel, we’re going to have a disaster again come spring.”
The deadline to apply for State Disaster Assistance is November 20th. To apply, you can call toll-free 855-445-7131.
Contact Blake Essig.