Special Report

After the Flood

Wayne Ames shows his wife Shannon and friends how the creek cut through the old Hanousek property and came down the road just before the West Creek Bridge. City workers were able to put part of the road back together to allow access for raft tours on the nearby Taiya River. -JB

Council provides $250,000 to remove West Creek material

The Skagway City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance Aug. 1 that appropriates $250,000 for the removal of approximately 60,000 cubic yards of deposited material from the bed of West Creek between the West Creek bridge and the West Creek gorge.
“I think we need to move as quickly as we can,” City Manager Bob Ward said. “There is a lot of material to be removed. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The material, which caused the water level to raise 18 feet, was deposited after a moraine on the west side of a lake at the base of West Creek Glacier collapsed July 23, and sloughed into the lake resulting in raised water levels with excess water surging down the creek.
Dyea residents and campers were evacuated and a local state of emergency was issued. Now, residents and the city are left with cleaning up
“Personally, I think this is something we really need to do,” Mayor Tim Bourcy said. “Even with the work that we do, we may have some more potential issues in the future.”
Failure to remove the material will result in additional flooding with the onset of rainfall and the melting of fractured ice at West Creek Glacier, Ward said.

An aerial view of the boulder choked West Creek during the July 23 flood. Stan Kartis, Temsco Helicopters

“I am fairly confident $250,000 is enough,” Ward said.
Ward said he is working with the State Division of Emergency Services for potential reimbursement of the funds through a disaster declaration, however, he does not know how much money to expect.
“The perception of being a wealthy community is going to play against us some here.” he said.
The earliest work, which will include excavation and trucks, will have begun the end of this week with bulldozing, Ward said.
In addition, the council agreed to allow property owners the use of the removed material to build up their roads and driveways.
“This is the least we can do to get some of those properties raised a little bit,” Ward said.
Mayor Tim Bourcy agreed, saying, “I think this is the least we can do.”
“This by itself demonstrates why we should be our own borough,” Councilmember Stan Selmer said, referring to the city’s ability to aid in local disasters.

Dyea residents pick up the pieces

Three days after the flood, water was still sitting on Fred and Kathy Hosford’s property near the river, along with trees and mud that slammed into a trailer occupied by their son and a friend who were able to get out in time. Photos by Jeff Brady

Insurance companies not covering damages

Property damages are being assessed and home owners are still picking up the pieces more than two weeks after residents and campers were evacuated from Dyea due to a glacial landslide that caused the area to flood July 23.
“It’s drying up,” Dyea resident Pattie Maggi said. “It’s looking better.”
Two weeks after the flood, Pattie and Mark Maggi were still seeing one-eighth inch of water in the basement level of their three- story home, and had already pulled the carpet off the second floor. Their property is approximately 500 yards from West Creek, which flooded after the a lateral moraine near the foot of the West Creek Glacier gave way, causing a glacial lake to overflow.
By early last week, there was only a trace of water and they were planning to start reconstruction the following week.
Like other Dyea residents, the Maggis are faced with paying for the damages caused by the flood. Their insurance company Allstate will not pay for the damage as it is considered water, not land damage, Pattie said. The estimated damage to their home is $8,701, she said.
The Maggis are just a few of those affected by the flood who will not receive help from their insurance companies because the events of July 23 are covered under flood insurance.

Pattie Maggi looks at the pulled up carpet and wet floor on the second story of her home. JB

Chilkoot Gateway Insurance agent Debbie Ackerman, who is an independent agent who deals with Allstate said she has a half a dozen or more Dyea clients who do not have flood insurance, which includes flood damage caused by earth movement, such as a a land slide.
Flood insurance is always a separate policy, she said.
“(The residents) pretty much understand,” she said. “There are very few flood policies (in Skagway and Dyea) as a whole.”
“It’s not something most people consider,” she said, adding that since the flood she has not received any complaints for lack of coverage or calls requesting information about flood insurance.
City Manager Bob Ward said the Skagway Fire Department put together a form asking residents the extent of their damages. The completed forms will be used to request state relief for the residents, he said.
So far, the city has only been able to offer residents aid by providing them with some of the material removed from the West Creek bed to use in their driveways and roads, Ward said.
Fred and Kathy Hosford, who own property near West Creek, filled out the form provided by the Fire Department and submitted it to their accountant as well as City Hall.
The Hosfords, who own the Chilkoot Trail Outpost, did not experience damage to their business, but did lose revenue from cancellations, Kathy said.
Fred said he estimates the damage to their cabin near West Creek at close to $27,000. Included in their list of damages are the loss of their cabin’s foundation, excess silt on their property, the loss of gravel they had recently hauled in, the loss of skirting and installation of the trailer and the destruction of their travel trailer after a tree went through it, Fred said.
Some of their outside buildings are also full of silt and a Honda generator was destroyed, he said. Denise Caposey, who was unaware of the flood until she returned home from vacation, said she is still calculating the damages to her property.
“We’ve had a lot of glacial silt we’re dealing with,” she said. “It’s embedded into everything.”
Her son Orion was home when the flood happened and friends helped him stabilize things until she returned.
“They did a lot of clean up,” she said, adding that she couldn’t imagine what her property looked like when the flood occurred.
Caposey said her Honda gas generator had to be overhauled, but her diesel generator and home were not touched by the flood.
“We were really lucky,” she said.
She said it’s hard to say what the long-term effect is at this point.

Nola Cole helps shovel mud from the steps of Denise Caposey’s spare home. She was on a canoe trip in the Yukon when the flood hit, but friends did a lot of the cleanup before she and partner Dennis Bousson returned home. JB

Ray and Beryl Hosford estimate damage to be in thousands of dollars, however they have been too busy working on their home and property to get an accurate damage estimate, Beryl said.
Ray said part of their expenses include the rentals of loaders and backhoes for digging the trench in their driveway to help remove some of the water around their home.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Beryl said.
The Hosfords, who could not reach their home by car for several days after the flood, are living in their home again after electricity was restored, their generator was cleaned, and they were able to use their well, although the water still has to be tested to drink, she said.
The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad helped clean their generators, she said.
“White Pass was a tremendous help,” she said.
The Hosford home was surrounded by two feet of water after the flood and was only reachable by canoe for days after the flood.

Ray and Beryl Hosford’s home, which was once surrounded by 2 feet of water, now has a pond in the front. JB

John Webb said he was lucky that the only damage he had to his property was the silt left in his garages. which he cleaned out by the Friday following the flood.
“It could have been a whole lot worse,” he said.
John and Lorna McDermott were one of the luckier home owners who did not experience any damage.
“All we got was groundwater coming up,” Lorna said.
Recalling the day of the flood, she said, “It was really unusual to see that stuff going down the river. I really should have been really scared.”
Tim and Crissy Fairbanks had to stay at the Chilkoot Trail Outpost until their well, which was full of silt, was pumped and the generator up and working.
“Tim had to do some tinking with the generator,” Crissy said.
Last Monday, Crissy said, “It’s just a soggy mess.”

John Webb leans against his garage door after removing several wheel barrows of dirt. JB


• 7-26 Moraine collapses, West Creek floods Dyea residences

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