Susitna River watcher says Talkeetna is in danger

KTNA video frame grab

Ice jams in the Susitna River near Talkeetna have caused water to back up to the end of Main Street this week -- just two months after heavy rains caused flooding in the town. Longtime river watcher Brian Okonek fears the Susitna course is shifting in a direction that will seriously threaten the town next spring and perhaps for a long time to come, reports KTNA.

[Okonek] says that based on aerial photography and personal experience, the river that fluctuates so wildly from year to year now looks like it’s bearing down on the Talkeetna town site. ... Okonek has made a case to [Mat-Su] borough planners that the damages done to the town’s flood defenses will need attention and repair before spring. In addition, Okonek has watched as the main channel of the Susitna River shifted eastward. As it appears now, the full flow of the Susitna River is aimed squarely at the town site of Talkeetna.

Borough emergency manager Casey Cook says repairs to Talkeetna flood protection systems are planned, but the extent depends on whether a federal disaster declaration is made based on damage done in September.

Read more, and hear an audio report, at KTNA: Longtime residents recall ebb and flow of the Susitna -- and link to a short video showing this week's rising water here