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More areas to receive state disaster aid for flooding

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Posted: Monday, October 22, 2012 11:00 pm

FAIRBANKS — The state has expanded a disaster declaration to include three regions of Interior Alaska hit by flooding in late September.

On Friday, Gov. Sean Parnell broadened an earlier declaration, issued Sept. 21 primarily for Southcentral Alaska. The new declaration includes the Denali Borough and the Yukon-Koyukuk and Copper River Basin school districts.

The declaration allows the state to offer assistance to people in the areas.

Parnell’s amendment said “it is now evident that similar severe damages have occurred in additional communities in Southcentral and Interior Alaska” from a series of storms Sept. 15-30.

The Denali Borough and Copper River region received heavy rainfall on Sept. 19.

“Both the Richardson and Denali highways had to be closed at times, as well as many local roads in affected areas,” according to the National Weather Service’s monthly summary.

“Damage to the Parks Highway by the Nenana River reduced it to one lane in the canyon. The Nenana River hit a record of 14.9 feet, topping the old record of 14.1 feet from 1990,” the summary noted.

In addition, the Alaska Railroad track near Gold Creek washed out, which stopped traffic until Sept. 25.

Meanwhile, the Koyukuk River region, northwest of Fairbanks, also was inundated with rain.

The town of Bettles, in the upper Koyukuk drainage, received 3.55 inches of rain in September, 186 percent of normal, according to the weather service.

Parnell issued the first declaration Sept. 21 for the Alaska Gateway school district, which includes the Tok and Tanacross area, where high winds flattened trees.

“Wind damage was reported from Healy to Tok, with the community of Tanacross reporting the worst damage with unofficial speeds of up to 114 mph recorded,” according to the weather service’s September summary.

The original declaration also covered the Mat-Su and Kenai Peninsula boroughs and the Valdez area, where heavy flooding occurred. In the updated declaration, Parnell also added the municipality of Anchorage.

State, federal and local officials are assessing damage to see whether the state should ask for federal assistance, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Despite all the flooding elsewhere across the state, the Fairbanks area itself had much less rain than normal in September. At 0.55 inches, precipitation was exactly half the usual amount.

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.

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