Feds, state to reimburse borough for Lowell Point landslide response

The borough assembly voted Tuesday to accept the funds

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will be reimbursed for just over $122,000 in expenses incurred after the May 7 Lowell Point Road landslide in Seward following assembly approval Tuesday night.

That slide, which the City of Seward estimates contained about 40,000 cubic yards of debris, blocked the only road between Seward and the community of Lowell Point for almost three weeks. The slide prompted disaster declarations from the City of Seward, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the State of Alaska and from U.S. President Joe Biden.

The money, awarded through the State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be used to reimburse costs incurred by the borough associated with the slide. Expenses eligible to be reimbursed through the funds include response, recovery and mitigation work.

More than half of those funds — $65,960 — will be paid to Miller’s Landing Alaskan Fishing and Kayaking Outfitters, which offered free water taxi service between Seward and Lowell Point in the aftermath of the slide.

Additional water taxi services, such as those provided through Aurora Charters, were subsidized by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The borough also provided vehicle barge services between Seward and Lowell Point.

The assembly approved in June legislation that addressed recurring hazards associated with Bear Mountain. A post-landslide evaluation prepared for the City of Seward by the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys found that there is the potential for more large-scale sloughing from Bear Mountain that could cause landslides “similar to or greater than the May 7 event.”

Tuesday’s assembly meeting can be streamed on the borough’s website at kpb.legislar.us.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.