Eagle Ice Jam and Flood

May 2009

Winter 2008/2009 began a series of circumstances that have created the worst flood in history for the small community of Eagle. A long cold winter combined with heavy amounts of snow had river ice 140% of normal in the Eagle area and spring was slow in coming so the ice was holding tight. Then a week of unseasonble warm weather created massive amounts of runoff that began pouring into the Yukon River. The river ice under a normal year would have had 10 to 14 days more of slowly rotting ice before the shore ice let go and lifted which allows the river to break free. This year with the high water imput the river struggled to hold on but the water was too much and it finally blasted free in spots to start the river ice moving. Breakup crashed thru Eagle, giving residents the most spectacular views but as it continued downriver to 6-Mile Bend, here at our place, the ice prevailed and held tight, starting a very devastating event.

Much of Eagle is gone forever...the older section of Eagle Village along with the clinic and VPSO buildings were wiped out. Front street in Eagle destroyed. Many, many more homes destroyed and or severe flood damage that is not repairable. Homes sit asunder, one in the middle of the road.

The worst flood on record had the mighty Yukon cresting at 34 feet. This flood reached 54 feet, a full 20 feet over flood stage.

Eagle has begun the massive chore of cleaning up as the ice melts so that they can begin to rebuild. To learn more of Eagle and what is going on there you can go to eaglefloodinfo.wikispaces.com. More pictures will be added to this page!!

Here at our homestead the landscape is changed forever. Much of our large timbered forest is flattened under 212 acres of ice that pushed ashore. Our main boats destroyed, the motors probably as they are still buried under ice. Our fishwheel is in splinters somewhere in the middle of the massive ice push.

We were lucky in that our home cabin sits very high. The Yukon River was running thru the woods a mile inland and the lower forest was under 20 to 25 feet of flood water. The ice pushed inland from 100 to 200 yards totally wiping out our trail system. We will be spending the summer recutting and rebuilding our trails and hopefully getting a new fishwheel built.

It took us many days of recon to rule out most potential early routes to the river. With the help of a friend and an aerial map we found a route 1 1/4 mile downriver to a section of ice that we could safely cross. It took 3 days of leg work and cutting before we were able to start pulling the canoe to the river.

Lil Girl, Jake, Lobo, Puma, Jimbay and Titan were so wonderful. It took them a little while to get the hang of pulling a 19 ft canoe thru the thick boreal forest and woods. But once they did they charged ahead with Wayne and myself lending support and muscle along the way.

Our blog on the home page will give more updated information. This is just a pictorial of what has happened to Eagle and the area in May of 2009.

Our winter tours have not been affected by this disaster. None of our trail systems were destroyed.

Many of the ice jam pictures of Eagle were published in the Fairbanks News Miner and photographed by Photo Editor Sam Harrel.

The Fairbanks Newsminer: http://newsminer.com//