Flooding threat tips to southeast Alaska while Fairbanks hopes for relief from heavy rain


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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Nervous Fairbanks residents watched the heaviest rain in more than 40 years send rivers rising, but new flood threats emerged in southeast Alaska.

The Skagway Police Department issued a moderate flood warning for the Taiya River, and says the river crested Saturday at 18 feet. The National Park Service closed Chilkoot Trail for 24 hours and area campgrounds were expected to be affected.

In Fairbanks, Goldstream Creek flooded late Thursday night, rising from a trickle to six feet in 24 hours, the Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/1mS5h4u ).

The rising water lifted a 20-foot homemade bridge homeowners used to cross the creek and floated it down the creek, a scene they captured in a YouTube video.

"(Wednesday) morning the creek was five-and-a-half feet below our bridge and now the bridge is gone," said homeowner Andrea Swingley. "It sounds like it's raining outside and that's the water rushing by."

Most of their property was under water after Goldstream Creek flooded late Thursday night, she said.

"It's 10 or 15 feet from the edge" of our deck, Swingley said of the water. "We have no yard and we only have half of a dog yard and the dogs can't get to it."

The 6.62 inches of rain that fell between June 18 and July 2 was the wettest 15-day period on record in Fairbanks, breaking the old record of 6.17 inches set in August 1967.

Rivers and creeks across the Interior were swollen to flood stage after almost 3 1/2 inches of rain fell over a two-day period Tuesday and Wednesday.

The rain came on top of two other major rainfalls that dumped more than 3 inches in Fairbanks in the previous two weeks, saturating the ground and causing flooding on the Chena, Salcha and Goodpaster rivers.

Engineers lowered the flood gates at Moose Creek Dam to restrict flow into the lower Chena River. Engineers were holding more water back than usual because of the high flows in the Little Chena River, which is located below the dam.

Dave and Mary Blurton were waiting out the high water. The river had yet to flood at their house.

"It's right on the edge," Mary Blurton said. "We're ready to evacuate if it starts to spill over."

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