Alaska News Nightly: September 20, 2012

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Southcentral Alaska Copes With Flooding

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Matanuska and Susitna Valleys are reeling from floods due to Wednesday’s intense wind and rain. Earlier today, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough declared a state of emergency and has requested help from state officials. John Madden, director of Alaska Homeland Security and emergency manager for the state, says the state emergency operations center has been activated.

Madden says state liaisons are working with the Borough emergency operations center, but, so far, the state has not deployed any equipment or crews to the Mat-Su. He says the local emergency operations responders are doing the job.

Carole Vardemon, with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough emergency operations center, says rain is expected to taper off by Friday, although more rain is expected over the weekend, followed by another wind event. Vardemon says so far, only four people have taken shelter in one of three emergency shelters the Borough has set up. Rivers and creeks are rising dramatically, and in one instance early this morning, high water prompted an unusual rescue.

Farther north in the Mat-Su Borough, the river gauge on the Yentna is three feet underwater. Several other creeks and rivers have already crested or are forecast to crest later Thursday. Emergency crews are making house to house contact in affected areas in Willow, Trapper Creek and Talkeetna, and an Anchorage Fire Department dive team has been stationed in Sunshine.

By 11 this morning, the Talkeetna River had risen over several riverfront properties and begun streaming across a road into the Talkeetna Riverfront Subdivision.

Elaine Desants’ house was surrounded by several feet of water, although it had not yet made it inside her house which is three feet off the ground. She was in her home in the Talkeetna River Subdivision when Emergency Services knocked on her door this morning.

Iditarod Musher Jerry Sousa began bringing in truckloads of gravel this morning to shore up the boat launch at his river-front Talkeetna Fishing Guides, turning his Iditarod Drop-Bags in to makeshift sandbags. The Talkeetna River is expected to crest later today. So far no injuries or property loss has been reported in Talkeetna.

Heavy rain also prompted some voluntary evacuations in Seward today. And the Kenai River is expected to reach flood stage early this evening.

Meanwhile, a new flood warning was issued for Cordova late this afternoon, as heavy rainfall is expected there tonight.

Energy, Manufacturing Companies In Asia Hope To Buy Alaska Gas

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Energy and manufacturing companies in Asia want to buy Alaska North Slope gas.  The Alaska Gasline Port Authority says it has interest from six corporations: four in Korea, and one each in Thailand and Indonesia.

Golden Valley Electric Secures Gas Shipments To Fairbanks

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Golden Valley Electric Association has cleared a hurdle in its push to truck North Slope natural gas to Fairbanks. The electric utility has secured a gas supply contract with BP. Under the deal, Golden Valley can purchase up to 23 billion cubic feet of gas annually for 20 years. It’s a key part of a project being forwarded in partnership with the Flint Hills Refinery.  GVEA spokeswoman Cassandra Cerny says it’s aimed at replacing oil with gas fired energy.

A decision on whether or not to move forward with financing and construction will be up to the Golden Valley Electric Board and Flint Hills. GVEA and the refinery have kicked in a million dollars apiece to study the gas trucking project. The state has provided $3.75 million in funding.

Shell Authorized For Two Beaufort Sea Boreholes

Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska
Shell may have abandoned its hopes of hitting oil in the Arctic this year, but the company is now cleared to do preparatory work in the Beaufort Sea. The U.S Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement gave Shell the go-ahead today to drill a pair of 1,500-foot boreholes in Alaska’s northern waters. Shell is already doing similar work in the Chukchi Sea.

Suspect of Shooting North of Kiana Arrested

The Associated Press

Alaska State Troopers say the suspect in a shooting of two brothers north of Kiana has been arrested and identified as a Kiana actor who went missing earlier this month after the death of his 74-year-old mother.

Troopers say 45-year-old Teddy Kyle Smith was taken into custody Thursday afternoon when he surrendered to authorities at the Squirrel River 16 miles upriver from Kiana.

He is charged with attempted murder, theft, robbery and weapons misconduct in connection with the Tuesday night shooting of 46-year-old Paul Buckel of Kotzebue and 47-year-old Charles Buckel of Fostoria, Michigan, at a remote cabin.

Troopers say the brothers are recovering.

The brothers had stopped at the cabin, found the other man already staying there and were shot after an altercation.

Kivalina Students Heading Back to School

The Associated Press

Kivalina students will finally head back to classes Monday, five weeks after the fall semester was postponed because late summer storms damaged a water supply pipeline that left the school and teacher housing without clean water.

Temporary repairs to the pipeline have been made in the northwest village. Now crews are racing against the coming freeze-up to pump enough water from the Wulik River to last through winter. The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Thursday cleared treated water samples as safe to drink, lifting a boil-water notice. The repairs to the supply line and pumping operation are the results of a multi-agency effort, including the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Northwest Arctic Borough.

Governor Sean Parnell declared a disaster in Kivalina earlier this month.

America’s Top Port Sees Streak Tweaked

Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just issued its fisheries report card for 2011, and Alaska is on the honor roll. Last year, 2.3 billion pounds of seafood worth $1.3 billion crossed the state’s docks.

State’s Lawsuit Against Fast Ferry Manufacturer Scheduled For Spring

Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau

The State’s lawsuit against the manufacturers of the fast ferries is back on the calendar. A trial is scheduled for next spring, but attorneys representing the State and the Alaska Marine Highway System are worried that they won’t get any pre-trial cooperation from the German company that made the high-performance diesel engines.

‘Glacier Deer’ Spotted in Southeast

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

Southcentral Alaska has its white moose, now Southeast Alaska has its white deer.

Alaska Department of Fish & Game biologist Phil Mooney was tagging mountain goats on Baranof Island outside of Sitka in late August and saw the unusual animal from his helicopter.

Longtime APRN Legislature Reporter Retires

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage & Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Very few people know the ins and outs of the state legislature in Juneau as well as APRN’s Dave Donaldson. He was hired in 1991 to cover state politics for APRN and has now logged an impressive 22 legislative sessions. He arrived in Juneau from North Carolina, thinking he would only stay one year. But like many Alaskans, he fell in love with the state, and Juneau, almost instantly.

He tells APRN’s Lori Townsend he also had a great first impression of the legislature and state lawmakers.

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