Fairbanks is saved by the dam…again!

Recently Fairbanks and the surrounding areas have been getting a lot of rain.  So when Jack and I visited the Chena Dam the other day the floodgates had been lowered in order to prevent high water from flowing downstream toward Fairbanks.  This results in the river backing up into the reservoir area behind the dam but saves Fairbanks as it has many times since it was built almost 40 years ago.

Dermot Cole of Alaska Dispatch News wrote in 2014 when the floodgates were lowered then that Fairbanks’ “most effective flood insurance policy … takes the form of an unusual dam with four 30-ton gates that operate like giant garage doors, stemming the flow of high water when the river rises. The floodgates are one element in an extensive federal flood control project that cost a quarter-billion dollars by the time of its completion in 1979.”

Click on the first photo and scroll to the right to read the captions.

For more info:  a slideshow on the Army Corp website and this pamphlet for a little more in depth information.



8 comments on “Fairbanks is saved by the dam…again!

  1. Thank you for the updates. The photos are incredible! Hugs to all. -V

  2. Susan says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these photos & info Judy & Jack. Stay Safe

  3. rosemegan321 says:

    Thanks for the great pictures.

  4. audrey258 says:

    Before this was built it was a very controversial project because of the high cost to build it and many thought the Corps of Engineers plans would not work. If you lived through the flood of 67 you would really appreciate this project since Fairbanks suffered a devastating flood at that time with millions of dollars in lost property and possessions. After that flood the common practice of building split entry homes changed because of the high cost of flood insurance so ranches and two stories became more common. Today this project protects the City of Fairbanks and surrounding area from needing flood insurance unless you are in a particular area that is not protected. Great photos Jack and Judy.

    • judyinalaska says:

      I didn’t realize this was the reason the Fairbanks area doesn’t need flood insurance. Thanks for the details! Several people actually died in the flood of 1967 too.

  5. Charles & Linda Rogers says:

    Thank you Judy and Jack for sharing the pictures. We enjoyed looking at them.
    Charles & Linda Rogers
    Oroville, CA

  6. Further flood protection measures would rely on the City upgrading its stormwater pipe-work and tide gates, creating neighbourhood dry-wells and cisterns, and developing its ‘green infrastructure’, such as greenways, levees and detention ponds. A longer term vision involves elevating whole neighbourhoods at a time, with roads, infrastructure and terrain being raised along with houses, to a new safe level, or installing a large-scale flood barrier. This would obviously be extremely costly and financial mechanisms for collecting the necessary resources would be complex. San Diego Water Damage

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s