Heavy rainfall in Juneau causes minor flooding and prompts evacuations

By October 6, 2019 October 7th, 2019 Juneau, Southeast, Weather

A rainbow shines over downtown on Sunday in Juneau. The city was inundated with rain over the weekend causing minor flooding, property damage and road closures. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Update (2:45 p.m. Sunday)

There was a lot of mud, water and loose rock in the roads in Juneau on Sunday. 

Heavy rains caused flooding, mudslides and in one Douglas Island neighborhood, a road collapsed early Sunday morning.  

Shawn Blumenshine, a Douglas Island resident checks for damage to his property on Sunday, October 6, 2019, in Juneau, Alaska. The city was inundated with rain over the weekend causing minor flooding, property damage and road closures. Blumenshine was evacuated at 3 a.m. Sunday, due to high water and the threat of a road collapse. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Shawn Blumenshine lives nearby. His townhome is built into the side of a hill between John Street and David Street on Douglas. He said he’s been there for about three years. 

Just down the hill, John Street has eroded away, causing one car to fall partially into a ditch. 

Early Sunday morning, Blumenshine said he heard construction workers. 

“And then all of the sudden, a bunch of people are banging on my door at 3 a.m. I get up and I answer, it’s about three or four city workers. They’re like, you need to leave — we’re evacuating the neighborhood. Apparently they had been trying to get my attention for awhile,” he said.

They told him they were afraid they were going to lose John Street.  The whole thing took him by surprise. Blumenshine grabbed a few things and bolted out of the house. There was water in his garage. He says he walked through knee-deep water to get to his car. 

He said he’s never had his home evacuated before.

John Street on Douglas Island where residents were evacuated Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 due to high water and the threat of the road collapsing. (Photo by Rashah McChesney / KTOO)

“I’m on the side of the hill. I’m pretty up above the water level. It’s some place where you would feel safe. I’ve never had it happen, I’ve never heard of it happening,” he said.

At 3 a.m., he said he had a hard time getting anyone to answer their phones. 

“Everyone’s asleep like normal people,” he said.

So he ended up in Auke Bay at a friend’s house.  By Sunday morning, most of the water had receded. 

Blumenshine, has some mud in his garage and has someone coming out to check his foundation — other than that, he said he’s fine.

But, it’s still raining.   

David Levin of the National Weather Service says downtown Juneau and Douglas area got 4 to 6 inches of rain in a 24- to 36-hour period over the weekend. 

The Juneau police, city streets department and state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities are out checking out complaints of high water as well as mud and debris in the roads.  

Thane Road was partially closed due to flooding and mudslides on Sunday, October 6, 2019, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

There’s debris on Glacier Highway between Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, and the Egan Drive access road, and reports of standing water over portions of Egan Drive.

A landslide covered a portion of Thane Road on Sunday morning. 

Department of Transportation crews are working with a construction company to open drainage and culverts along the road. They’ve asked residents to keep away from the area. DOT limited that road to one lane of local traffic from miles 1 through 5.

Debris keeps blocking drains, putting mud and water on the roads. City streets and DOT employees were running around town clearing them.  

A car drives through mud and high water in downtown, on Sunday, October 6, 2019, in Juneau, Alaska. The city was inundated with rain over the weekend causing minor flooding, property damage and road closures. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Levin said he expected another inch to two inches of rainfall (web: until 4 p.m.) into Sunday afternoon. The National Weather Service has posted a flood advisory for possible minor flooding of rivers, creeks and poor drainage areas. Mudslides and debris flow are possible in steep terrain areas.

The weather service cautions drivers to avoid roads that have been covered by water.

Levin said the heavy rainfall was caused by a strong weather system that entered Southeast Alaska from the west and southwest. 

As of Sunday morning, he said Montana Creek was approaching minor flood stage. The weather service is also monitoring water levels in Jordan Creek and the Mendenhall River.  

 

Original story

John Street on Douglas Island where residents were evacuated Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 due to high water and the threat of the road collapsing. (Photo by Rashah McChesney / KTOO)

This weekend’s heavy rainfall has caused swelling of rivers and streams, minor flooding of some streets, and even forced one Douglas Island resident from his home.

David Levin of the National Weather Service office in Juneau says heavy rainfall was caused by a strong weather system that entered Southeast Alaska from the west and southwest. The downtown Juneau and Douglas area received four to five inches of rain in the last 24- to 36-hours. Some of the higher elevation sites received as much as six inches of rainfall.

As of Sunday morning Montana Creek and was approaching minor flood stage. The National Weather Service is also monitoring water levels in Jordan Creek and the Mendenhall River.

Samuel Dapcevich of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) said a landslide covered a portion of Thane Road Sunday morning. SECON, a construction company that contracts with the city and state, is working with DOT to clear open drainage and culverts along the road. The road is currently limited to just one lane of local traffic.

There were reports of debris on Glacier Highway between the Juneau-Douglas High School and the Egan Drive access road, and reports of standing water over portions of Egan Drive.

Dapcevich said there was also a small slide on Douglas Highway between John Street and David Street.

John Street on Douglas Island where residents where evacuated Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 due to high water and the threat of the road collapsing. (Photo by Rashah McChesney / KTOO)

“We saw some pictures from the John Street area on Douglas of some pavement broken up and also some debris flow activity,” Levin said.

One vehicle is fully in the ditch where a portion of John Street eroded away. Another vehicle is on the edge.

Shawn Blumenshine lives in the area. He said he got a knock on the door at 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning and was told he needed to gather his things and evacuate because a portion of John Street near Peter’s Lane was eroding and in danger of collapsing. He returned home to minor flooding in the garage, but no major damage.

Juneau Police Department dispatcher Jake Thayer said there was water and mud that spilled onto the road at the 6100 block of Douglas Highway and some water over the road at the 3400 block. Standing water on Nowell Avenue and Sitka Street in West Juneau was reportedly caused by plugged drains.

Levin said they expect another inch to two inches of rainfall until 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The National Weather Service has posted a flood advisory for possible minor flooding of rivers, creeks, and poor drainage areas. Mudslides and debris flow are possible in steep terrain areas.

The weather service cautions drivers to avoid roads that have been covered by water.

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