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Flooding Causes Denali Park Road Closure, Evacuations

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avatar Flooding Causes Denali Park Road Closure, Evacuations
June 27, 2014 07:30PM
Torrential rains Wednesday night caused what are usually small streams to become raging torrents along and across the Denali Park Road.

At 4:30 a.m. on Thursday the park road was closed beyond Wonder Lake due to flooding in the Kantishna area at Eureka and Friday Creeks (which normally flow at very low levels across the park road) and at the north end of Wonder Lake. Around 8:45 a.m. park managers closed the road beyond the Eielson Visitor Center due to significant rockfall at the Eielson Bluffs, approximately one to two miles west of the visitor center.

Over 100 guests and employees at private lodges in Kantishna and more than a dozen park employees were marooned at the western end of the park road, but all were safe and accounted for. The Denali Backcountry Lodge, which is located at the end of the road near the airstrip, evacuated its guests and staff to higher ground near another lodge Thursday morning as water began encroaching into buildings.

Lodge guests and employees were subsequently evacuated without incident. They were ferried by the park’s two contract helicopters to buses staged at the Wonder Lake Ranger Station or by fixed-wing aircraft to airstrips near or at the east end of the park. Park employees in that area were also evacuated. Guests at other lodges did not have to evacuate and will be able to leave via the road today as temporary repairs have been made to the causeway section of road at the north end of Wonder Lake.

Four mountaineers who had traversed Mt. McKinley were airlifted from the south side of the McKinley River to the Eielson Visitor Center. They had been trying for days to cross the river, but had been unsuccessful due to the high water and were out of food. The river is notoriously difficult to cross, especially after heavy rain. A Denali Backcountry Lodge employee who had been stranded on what became an island in the housing area was able to get across the swollen Moose Creek with assistance from other employees and a rope.

Road crews will coordinate plans for repairing the damaged sections of the park road at Eureka and Friday Creeks with the Alaska Department of Transportation, which has the jurisdictional responsibility for that portion of the road. Road repairs may take several days.

Park concessioner-operated buses will operate on their regular schedule as far as Wonder Lake beginning today.
Re: Flooding Causes Denali Park Road Closure, Evacuations
June 28, 2014 07:12PM
Hmm, I vaguely heard of this as I was out on a 20 year anniversary weekend near Denali and heard reports from some tourists. I'm amazed on how informed this forum is!
avatar Re: Flooding Causes Denali Park Road Closure, Evacuations
June 28, 2014 11:12PM
We know what you did last summer.



Old Dude
avatar Follow-up On Park Flooding And Closures
June 30, 2014 12:53PM
The park continues to recover from the serious flooding caused by torrential rains last Wednesday night. Park staff are working to repair flood damage with personnel from the Alaska Department of Transportation, which has jurisdictional responsibility for major repairs on the affected section of the Denali Park Road.

Erosion by the raging Friday and Eureka Creeks at the far western end of the 92-mile-long road has left approximately a half mile of damaged road. Park managers and DOT staff flew over the impacted sections last Friday morning to assess the damage and began to formulate plans for the equipment and materials needed for the repair.

Park road crews will focus on clearing debris from the portion of the road open to bus traffic and improve repairs made on Thursday. Alaska DOT was planning to begin moving heavy equipment into the park over the weekend, but major repair work will not begin until the road dries out. It is estimated that it may be up to two weeks before normal operations can resume at the end of the road.

Park concessioner buses are operating on their regular schedule as far as Wonder Lake. Buses that would have continued on to Kantishna can now travel as far as the north end of Wonder Lake before turning around.
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