Dyea Road re-opens after flooding subsides

Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Residents and visitors were allowed back into Dyea on Tuesday afternoon after an early morning flood prompted officials to evacuate the community north of Skagway.

The Dyea Road was reopened at 3 p.m. Tuesday and residents were allowed back into their homes, Skagway City Manager Bob Ward said. The West Creek Road and West Creek bridge on the far end of the West Creek valley remained closed this morning.

"We're going to get someone up there today to check the conditions," Ward said this morning. "The flooding has subsided. It peaked at 7 a.m. and had subsided by noon."

Dyea residents reported water in some homes on Tuesday, although Ward said the extent of damage wasn't known this morning. The city plans to gather information this afternoon about damages, he said.

More than 35 people, area residents and visitors staying at a campground in Dyea, were evacuated to Skagway at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. The city of Skagway set up an emergency shelter at the Skagway City School on Tuesday, and tours into the area were canceled.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Superintendent Bruce Noble said the park is open and campers were allowed to retrieve tents and vehicles Tuesday. The campground is temporarily closed, he said.

"It looked like it was just about totally covered with water when it peaked. Other than silt and debris left behind, there wasn't significant damage," he said. "It closed overnight and it's still closed now because we're trying to get it dried out a little and rake the mud off the road," he said.

The Chilkoot Trail was closed temporarily Tuesday and has reopened, he said.

Lance Pape, a geologist who flew over the area Tuesday morning, said the flooding was caused by a 700-foot-high gravel moraine near the West Creek Glacier that became unstable and slid into a lake below.

The material caused the lake to overflow into West Creek and flood some parts of Dyea, he said.

"The slosh and the rising of the lake from the debris ran the overflow of the lake into West Creek, which has a sinuous course for about five miles," he said.

Pape said the landslide activity appears to be over.

"At this point, it looks pretty well stabilized," he said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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