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Rescue crews shuttle Willow Creek-area residents across flooded water to get supplies

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: December 31, 2019
  • Published December 30, 2019

Karen Herget, left, gets help loading fuel into a tracked vehicle by Michael Shipton of Mat-Su Emergency Services on Monday. Herget shuttled food and fuel to her partner, who remained at her home near Willow Creek to care for her 16 goats and some chickens. Herget left the home eight days ago because of flooding in the area. "It's been an adventure," she said. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Update, 5 p.m. Tuesday: Emergency services staff from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough assessed Creekside, Burrow and Friday roads on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Department of Emergency Services. Water was not crossing the roads, but officials warned residents on Burrow Road that the street may be impacted by rising water, the statement said.

All disabled cars were removed from the road Tuesday by a tow truck, the statement said.

Access to Deneki Road was improved for emergency vehicles, but the road was still closed Tuesday.

Original story:

Rescuers shuttled residents stranded by flooding on Willow Creek to buy supplies Monday afternoon as crews worked to restore access to the Deneki Bridge, Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials said.

Large chunks of ice jammed at the Deneki Bridge on Dec. 21 and restricted normal water flow. The creek backed up and flooded several nearby homes in the Friday subdivision of Willow. Deneki Bridge has been closed since; it is the only roadway that connects residents living on the north side of the creek to the rest of the community.

Mat-Su emergency services director Ken Barkley said Monday that crews are working to make the road and bridge accessible for residents. He said crews were setting up culverts to steer water back into the creek rather than to divert it elsewhere.

Ice is cleared from flooded Deneki Road on December 30, 2019. Willow Creek flooding cut off access to homes in the area. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Conditions near the end of last week were exacerbated by extreme low temperatures and snow. Ice jams formed around six cars that were trapped and became frozen in the creek. Barkley said that a 50-degree temperature swing within a week has since melted ice from around the stuck cars, and all but two were pulled from the creek.

Barkley said tire tracks left on the road have hindered work that crews have already completed. He advised residents not to go on the road, even in places it looks passable.

“That’s what our goal is, to make that accessible,” he said. “We’re just not there right now.”

Barkley said Monday that five homes had visible outside damage from the flood. Numerous families have evacuated since the flooding initially began.

The borough renewed a local disaster declaration during an emergency meeting Saturday. A town hall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Willow Community Center.

Woods along Deneki Road are surrounded by floodwater on Monday. (Marc Lester / ADN)