EOTW#10 – the 1967 Fairbanks, Alaska flood

I guess it’s time to do a EOTW closer to home (although I know some of you are all over the country!). The 1967 flood happened on the Chena River in Fairbanks during Augustin 1967. During July 1967, the Fairbanks area received almost twice the normal amount of rain as 3.32 inches fell. During August, the rain did not let up and another 3.42 inches fell within a 24 hour period between August 11 and 13. In total August 1967 experienced 6.2 inches of rain – almost triple the normal amount for August.  As a result, the Chena River received far more water than usual and passed its flood stage. At the time, there was no stream gauging equipment on the Chena upstream of Fairbanks so the people and scientists did not know how bad the flooding would be.  Flooding by August 14th was bad and many people evacuated. About 7,000 to 8,000 sheltered at UAF, which given its elevation was out of the flood waters.

Although Fairbanks is situated in a flood plain, we have not experienced flooding of this magnitude since. Read the following articles, and answer the questions below:

https://www.encountersalaska.org/fairbanks-flood-1967/

https://www.adn.com/opinions/2017/08/15/fairbanks-recalls-the-great-flood-that-changed-everything/

  1. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?
  2.  Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.

Optional – If you live in Fairbanks, I encourage you to take the Flood Tour set up last summer in commemoration. See below for the map!

https://www.weather.gov/aprfc/FairbanksFlood1967

More photos from the flood:

http://vilda.alaska.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cdmg11/id/35056

13 thoughts on “EOTW#10 – the 1967 Fairbanks, Alaska flood”

  1. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?
    Along with residents moving to higher ground in the years following the flood, the city was given approval by Congress to spend more money on flood control. This caused them to improve their upstream monitors so it the city could react fast than in 1967 and to evoke the Chena Lake Flood Control protect. This project lead to a 22-mile levy and dam to be built 17 miles upstream from Fairbanks. Thia has prevented anything like the 1967 flood to happen.

    Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.
    Other than the actions in preventing future severe flooding, there was a lot of local awareness and community bonding over the event. neighbors, storeowner, and even the major of the time came out to help dig dikes and create sand barriers to protect property. Lots of people who were affected by the flood stayed at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) while they were recovering from the flood. In the end, the city of Fairbanks was stronger as a whole.

  2. One of the reasons that we haven’t had a repeat performance of the massive flooding that occurred in 1967 is because of the improvements made to Fairbanks’s flood prevention infrastructure, in large part due to the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project, which came out of the congressional Flood Control Act of 1968. The Chena diverts to the Tanana when it reaches flood levels, and a series of dikes was installed along the Tanana to prevent its flooding and affecting Fairbanks.

    One positive outcome of the flood was the creation of the Creamer’s Field bird sanctuary. When the farm on that location went bankrupt after the flood, the town bought the land and established a bird sanctuary. Creamer’s Field is one of my favorite spots in Fairbanks, and I had no idea that that was its history.

  3. 1. Fairbanks has not experienced a flood of that magnitude since 1967, due to mitigation efforts provoked by the 1967 flood. In 1968, the Flood Control Act was passed by the Alaskan congress and from that came the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project. This group installed upstream monitors in order to effectively respond to a flood. Additionally, a 22 mile levy was built upstream of Faribanks along with dikes along the Tanana to prevent flooding when the Chena begins to drain into it.

    2. The most bittersweet outcome of this flood was the establishment of Creamer’s Field. Previously, a farm was located there and the owner went bankrupt trying to rebound from the flood. The city then bought the land from the farmer and designated it as a bird sanctuary.

  4. 1. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?
    Fairbanks has not had severe floods since 1967 because of the establishment of the Flood Act of 1968. Through this act, the city gained funds to establish the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project upstream of Fairbanks. The project diverts the Chena River into the Tanana River when the water level of the former is too high. The Tanana River is lined with dikes to stop it from flooding Fairbanks from the south. The Chena Lakes Flood Control project remains the most important public works project in the history of Interior Alaska and has taken some of the fear out of living on a floodplain.

    2. Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.
    One positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses was a successful campaign to build the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

  5. 1. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?
    The flood encouraged congress to act and the National Flood Insurance Program and the Chena River Control came about from it. There are four gates upstream and an eight-mile long by 50 feet tall dam that is now in place to serve as a measure to control flooding. With the river under control with the use of a dam, officials can open the dam to let out water at a gradual rate and prevent any areas surrounding the river from flooding in the future.

    2. Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.
    I positive is the dam was put in place. Sometimes you need something like this to happen to realize it is a necessity. Another would be the National Flood Insurance Program. It’s unfortunate the damages reached 160 Million dollars during that time.

  6. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?
    One reason we have not had such severe floods since 1967 is because of the Flood control act of 1968. There were also many improvements made to over the years to prevent a flood such as the 1967 flood from taking place ever again. He Chena river control also came fourth because of this flood.

    Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.
    I think the two most positive outcomes that came fourth because of the flooding is an increase in spending and the dam which is located 17 miles from Fairbanks. Increased spending can lead o proper mitigation methods to be installed, one being the dam. Sometimes the best way to learn is to have it happen first hand so that adjustments can be made to improve how to better protect communities.

  7. The Fairbanks area has not had a severe flood like the one seen in 1967 because of many manmade features. The Chena Lakes Flood Control project was started after the passing of the 1968 Flood Act. Construction stated in 1973 and finished in 1979. The Moose Creek Dam runs north to south from the Chena to the Tanana River for 8 miles, and an additional 22 miles of levees run the length of Tanana River from the dam to the confluence of the Tanana and the Chena.

    One positive that came from the flood was increased research on the Chena River. Water gauges are now placed in areas above the town so accurate information on rainfall and water flow is available. The dam at the Chena Lakes Flood Control project is also used to count salmon as they migrate upriver to their spawning grounds.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=297

  8. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?

    One year after the flood, U.S. Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1968. This act funded the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project, which in part allowed the Army Corp of engineers to build dams and dikes to prevent future flooding incidents.

    Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged because of the flood damage and losses.

    The community of Fairbanks came together, even postponing the annual state fair. The locals also raised money to strengthening the local businesses, This shows how resilient Fairbanks and why they have the Steller university they have.

  9. 1. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?

    Fairbanks has not experienced such severe floods since the 1967 flood following the flood precautions were taken. In the wake of the flood, Fairbanks residents moved to higher ground in order to better protect their home and belongings. Additionally, following the flood in 1967 U.S. Congress passed The Flood Control Act of 1968 which helped fund the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project, which includes a 22 mile levy along the Tanana River with a dam 17 miles from Fairbanks. The project greatly reduces the threat of future floods.

    2. Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.

    In the wake of the flood, several positive outcomes emerged one of which was the Fairbanks community campaigning to build the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

  10. Since the Great Flood of 1967 caused such catastrophic damage ($80 million), the Flood Control Act of 1968 was pass by the U.S. Congress. This act funded the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project which diverts the Chena River into the Tanana River if the water levels get too high. Moose Creek Dam (8.1 miles long) was built to control the flow of the Chena River and 22 miles of dikes line the Tanana River to stop it from flooding Fairbanks from the south. Since 1980, the flood gates have been lowered approximately 20 times to control the flow of the Chena River by allowing the excess water to flow into the Tanana River and prevent a repeat of the 1967 Floods.
    Congress approved the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars on this flood control project which helped to remove some of the fear of living in a flood plain. It was the most important and largest federal civil works project in the state. At the time of the 1967 flood, water level gauges were only downstream from Fairbanks. In addition to the dam, floodway and dikes, monitors were installed upstream to monitor the level of the river miles before it gets to Fairbanks to prevent future flooding of Fairbanks and Fort Wainwright. This flood also inspired Congress to pass a national flood insurance program.
    With the closing of the St. Joseph’s Hospital due to the flood, the community came together to build what is now Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. The community voted down twice the creation of a government run hospital and finally collected enough private donations and state and federal funds to build the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

  11. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?

    There have been alot of improvements after the flood of 1967. Some of those improvements now diver water from the Chena river into the Tanana River as necessary (Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project). I wonder if part of the reason, is we simply haven’t had that much rain since then. I tried to look up rainfall, and the sight I used stated that the record set in 1967 still holds, although there could be other sources.

    http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/Climate/fairbanks

    2. Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.

    Obviously the Chena River Lakes Flood control Project comes to mind, and that is great for sure. But I liked how the city of Fairbanks came together in the aftermath to get things back on track. The overall positive response to rebuilding and moving forward, and possible education that the citizens of Fairbanks today know that this did happen, and can happen again.

  12. After the flood of 1967 the Federal Government got involved with Army Core of Engineers building the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project. This consisted of a levee system and an upstream dam that diverts some of the flow of the Chena into Tanana River. One of the reasons Fairbanks hasn’t flooded is that the project is working well with the flood diversion taking place 20 times since its construction.

    One positive thing that came from the flood was that even though the hospital was damaged the locals raised funds and built a community-owned hospital.

  13. Why have we not had such severe floods since 1967?

    After the flood of 1967, a need for a way to prevent another flood was necessary. In the 1970’s the Chena Lakes Flood Control Project was build to mitigate future risks. Seen when driving to Eilson AFB, the massive project creates a 22 mile long Levy and channel that flood waters can be redirected to instead of all going down the Chena River. The levy and channel connect the Chena to the Tanana River. A steel gate at the Chena controls flow further downriver into Fairbanks.

    Briefly describe at least one positive outcome that emerged as a result of the flood damage and losses.

    The flood brought the community together to realize the need for a public hospital in Fairbanks. As a result of the flooding, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital was built to serve interior Alaska. The flood is described to have brought the community together.

Leave a Reply