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Flooding in Newhalen threatens houses, smokehouses

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Catherine Rohlman
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According to the city, an ice jam at the bottom of the Newhalen River caused water to flow over the banks of the river near the lower village. 

Update Feb. 5, 2020: According to Newhalen city officials, the water has receded by about two feet, and no houses have been damaged.

Original article Feb. 4, 2020:

An ice jam at the mouth of the Newhalen River caused the water to overflow near the city, flooding a portion of the lower village on Friday and threatening four houses. According to city officials, as of Monday afternoon the area was still flooded, and the smokehouses by the river are underwater.

Gladys Askoak, Newhalen's city clerk, said residents near the flood first alerted the city to the situation.

“The family called and let us know, the water’s going up really fast," she said. "We didn’t know what to do, but there were some guys that went down there with an auger and they tried to get the water to go a different direction.”

The Lake and Peninsula Borough issued a local disaster emergency over the weekend, noting that if conditions continue, there could be extensive damage to the sewage lagoon, as well as to sewer lines for residences and the school. City workers are checking on the site daily, and berms put in place to protect that infrastructure have been holding up. This week's temperatures, forecast for the mid-30s, are also expected to alleviate some of the river's icy conditions. 

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.