August Fiftieth Flood Anniversary

In case you missed it, there was a “high water party” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the ’67 flood hosted by Festival Fairbanks.

Today I caught a glance of one of the new signs installed to recall this event and the height of the water at the Fairbanks North Star Borough office, with the date August 15, 1967.  While I listened to this weekends warnings about a “flash flood” the thought did cross my mind that nothing could be anything like what I experienced that day, 50 years ago.

'67 Flood Marker

Sign by FNSB building denoting how high the water was

Our neighbor, Verdie, came running to the door at 4 am shouting, “It’s here!”   As a ten year old, I only remember stuffing some clothes in a brown paper bag and running out to the small Subaru station wagon, noting my pink bike being swept away in the back yard as the water came in waves into our yard.  Valiant though our efforts were, the car only got us just a hundred feet until it stopped and a kind gentleman paddled a canoe out from our next door neighbor’s house and rescued us as we crawled through the windows of our stalled car–even my grandmother!  We spent three days in the upstairs one bedroom apartment with 18 people crowded in it, eating banana bread and ice cream from the freezer.

As the water receded, we were able to return to our mobile home and find out just how blessed we were with precious few damages to our house, save the skirting that had to be replaced.  Many others, including my own uncle had to face a basement completely destroyed by the floodwaters.  As a result of this national disaster, the National Flood Insurance program was started, which has benefited many other communities.  Fairbanks has escaped several close calls due to the flood control project at Chena Lakes.