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High, fast Matanuska River causing concern early


MAT-SU—The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Department of Emergency Services is alerting residents along the Matanuska River of high, fast water. Fire officials knocked on doors in the Butte last night warning of potential flooding from riverbank erosion. Borough staff met again today with residents in Sutton whose property is eroding into the river.

Erosion along the Matanuska River is a recurring summer concern, but the high fast waters are a month early. The deep snowpack, warm temperatures above 70 F recently, and the rain showers have pumped the glacial river with water.

In Sutton. Photo taken by Mat-Su Borough Code Compliance Officer Mark Whisenhunt shows the river undercutting the riverbank and causing trees to fall. Borough staff walked a visible trail 12 days ago that is now under water. 

Areas at risk of erosion are mile 13 through 16 along the Old Glenn Highway in the Butte and areas experiencing erosion are farther up the Glenn Highway in Sutton from miles 64 to 67, where a homeowner lost 35 feet of land in two days.

In the Butte, no homes are affected as of Wednesday June 20. The standing water is about a half mile north of many homes.  The nearby revetment is continuing to hold back water from homes on the west side of Old Glenn Highway. Tuesday night Butte Assistant Fire Chief John Akers knocked on 10-12 doors in the Butte near Ye Old River Road. He disseminated information packets on flooding and advised them of available filled sandbags. About 1,000 sandbags are stationed at the Butte Fire Station.  

“We will provide sandbags to residents, but will not place them,” Borough Emergency Manager Casey Cook said.  “If more are needed, we have the ability to take our sandbagger out and fill bags for residents in affected areas.

As long as sandbags are placed around your house, you don’t need a permit.  The main goal is not to divert water onto your neighbor’s property or back into the river,” Cook said.

The Borough assembled its Flood Task Force to monitor the hazard.

Borough Manager John Moosey walked Sutton property last week, Borough Assemblymember Warren Keogh walked property in the Butte last week, assessing the situation.

Recreational users of the river should stay out of it. The water is moving at 20,000 cubic feet per second, as of Wed. June 20. Standing water rose 20 inches over a 26-hour period near the Maud Road area. Water has crossed over part of the bike path near Maud Road at the Old Glenn Highway. The State Dept. of Transportation has been notified.

“The water there has stabilized today. It’s a dynamic river, a dynamic situation,” said Cook. “We’ll continue to monitor it and remain ready to respond to any emergency calls for assistance.”

DES is monitoring rivers throughout the Borough. If residents want more information or are experiencing flooding call 373-8800.

Sandbags are at the Butte Fire Station, and the Central Landfill. Flood information packets are available at the Sutton Library and Sutton Fire Station and Butte Fire Station.

For more information call Borough Emergency Manager Casey Cook at 373-8800 or Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan at 745-9577 psullivan@matsugov.us.

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