Willow flooding victims share experiences over past week

 A Willow home buried in ice. Image courtesy of Gail Jones.
A Willow home buried in ice. Image courtesy of Gail Jones. (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 29, 2019 at 5:54 PM AKST
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Eight days after the Willow Creek ice jam broke, flooding continues to block the only way out of a Willow subdivision, freezing some people’s homes in over a foot of ice.

Willow residents stuck north of Deneki Bridge say the Mat-Su Borough's efforts to make Deneki Road passable are sending icy floodwaters pouring into their homes. The borough refuted this Sunday, saying they’re doing what they can as quickly as they can – but they have no timeline on when the situation will clear.

"It's dependent on the weather and the ice layer and how much more new snow falls,” MSB Emergency Manager Casey Cook said. “So there's no real way to predict what that's going to look like."

Some residents Channel 2 spoke to on Sunday expressed frustration at the state's reticence to contribute resources to the situation. Jeff Turner with the Office of the Governor briefly responded to these frustrations.

"It doesn't meet the criteria, is what I'm being told, for a state emergency declaration,” Turner said. “It's a borough road, not a state road."

Cook says MSB has submitted a request to the Office of the Governor to declare a state emergency, but it first has to prove that properties are suffering significant damage.

"Right now we're in there doing damage assessments, so when we have that information we'll submit that to the state," Cook said.

Gail and Daniel Jones’ home is buried in nearly two feet of frozen ice. They say they’ve lost power and have had to seek refuge in a home located farther away from Deneki Bridge.

"We're exhausted,” Gail said. “It's been eight days of turmoil and moving and hurt."

MSB brings in supplies when conditions allow, and according to the Jones’ the mushing community is voluntarily bringing gas and food in from Willow.

With multiple damaged vertebrae Daniel Jones says he has to lay low until Deneki Drive, the only access point in or out of their neighborhood, opens back up.

"I can't wait for a dry road. I'm going to the hospital, but I'm not going out on a bumpy sled," Daniel said. "If someone has a medical emergency, we don't even have an established road."

A water rescue team will be available Monday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to ferry groceries, gas, and people in and out of the neighborhood.

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