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Alaska News

Ketchikan evacuees can return home with potential for dam failure subsiding, officials say

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: December 6, 2020
  • Published December 5, 2020

Update, 10:05 a.m. Sunday: Emergency officials say residents who voluntarily evacuated along Ketchikan Creek can return home as the threat of a potential failure of a nearby dam has subsided.

The water level at Ketchikan Lakes has eased, and “there is currently no danger of dam failure,” Ketchikan officials said in an alert Sunday morning.

While rain remains in the forecast, “the lake level is not anticipated to reach actionable levels and the voluntary evacuation order is now canceled,” Ketchikan emergency officials said. “Residents in the Ketchikan Creek Area who have evacuated may now return to their homes.”

Officials noted that a flood advisory is still in place through Sunday, with localized flooding still possible along the creek.

The Gateway Recreation Center, which opened to shelter evacuees, will be on standby but isn’t taking new residents. Free

Original story:

Ketchikan emergency officials urged residents to immediately evacuate from the areas around Ketchikan Creek on Saturday evening as concerns grew over a potential failure of a nearby dam within hours.

“Based on the current rain flow, conditions are developing that could cause a breach and failure of the Ketchikan Lakes dam by 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning,” Ketchikan’s Emergency Operations Center said in a statement.

The immediate evacuation starting at 6 p.m. Saturday was voluntary but recommended by officials. First responders were going door to door to notify residents of the voluntary evacuation Saturday night, according to officials.

“Conditions will be monitored, but a mandatory evacuation is expected by 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning,” Ketchikan emergency officials said.

For the expected mandatory evacuation at 3 a.m., a Nixle alert will be issued, emergency sirens will sound and police will patrol the streets with loudspeakers to notify residents, officials said.

Emergency officials recommended that evacuating residents bring enough medication and clothing for two to three days and first try to stay with family or friends. The Gateway Recreation Center, outfitted with cots and blankets, was available to those unable to find shelter someplace else, though officials recommended that people planning to stay there also bring prepackaged foot in addition to clothes and medicine.

A borough bus was available to take those unable to evacuate themselves to the Gateway Recreation Center starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, officials said.