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Flooding In Bethel's Hangar Lake and Alligator Acres Neighborhoods, And In Kwethluk

William McCarr watches the water rise near his home on Hangar Lake Road. "This isn't the highest it's been, it's come up since last night. I'm not worried because we've had this kind of flood occasion before," McCarr said. May 7, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile

Most Kuskokwim River communities have escaped heavy flooding so far, but not Kwethluk. Social media photos show water rising high and completely covering some roads. The IRA Council passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency on May 6. Phone calls to the council president and to the city manager were not returned by publication. 

Charlie Nicolai is the vice president of Kwethluk’s search and rescue. His house is on high ground, but he saw the flood coming in.

"There’s no more ice flowing on up here and the water is receding, look like 4 inches overnight, and it’s still going down. Only thing is wait for this water to recede and we’ll be good," Nicolai said. 

He said that it’s not the worst flooding that he’s seen.

Meanwhile, the Alligator Acres neighborhood in Bethel is experiencing some minor flooding, which is common during breakup. The end of 7th Avenue is flooded out completely, and residents are using kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and makeshift rafts to get up and down the street. The water came up in the late afternoon on May 6, and has still not receded 24 hours later. So far, no one has reported damage. Water also flooded areas across the Brown's Slough Bridge, including Hangar Lake Road.

"This is the highest it's been, and it's come up since last night. I'm not worried because we've had this kind of flood occasion before," said William McCarr, a Hanger Lake Road resident.

An earlier version of this story misidentified Charlie Nicolai as Charlie Olick. 

Katie Baldwin Basile is an independent photographer and multimedia storyteller from Bethel, Alaska.