Alaska Nature September 27, 2017
The Flood Of 1967 In Alaska Will Never Be Forgotten
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Flood of 1967, a catastrophic event in the Interior of Alaska, most affecting the town of Fairbanks in the Tanana Valley. Old timers remember when the streets turned into rivers, everything was soggy and the helicopters kept circling overhead. These photos perfectly capture the scope of the disaster and the affect it had on the town at that time. Take a walk through the history of the Great Flood of ’67 in Alaska.
The Great Flood was the worst disaster in Fairbanks history and occurred on August 12, 1967. The high water marks are still commemorated all over town with plaques and photos of that fateful day.
Rain fell throughout July relentlessly, affecting community celebrations and construction. Fairbanks received 3.34 inches (8.5 cm) of rain, almost double the July average of 1.84 inches (4.7 cm).
Then, between August 11 and 13, the Tanana Valley received the heaviest rainfall in recorded history. In the 24 hours before the flooding began on August 12, more than 3 inches of rain fell.
The Chena River surged beyond its banks and flooded most of downtown Fairbanks. Through the day and night of August 14, the water kept rising and driving residents to higher ground.
The flood shot out from the narrow river and was over 5 miles wide at its widest point.
The heart of downtown was completely underwater, including the Samson Hardware building which is no longer there and the Big I Irish Pub, which still stands in the same location.
Fires broke out in houses and businesses when electrical circuits were flooded.
People travelled the streets in riverboats, rafts and canoes rescuing people and gathering supplies.
Thousands of residents evacuated their homes, and many left the town completely. Some sought sanctuary with family in the Lower 48 states until the town could be rebuilt.
The baseball field, and home to the Alaska Goldpanners, was completely underwater.
Four people were killed and the flood caused more than $180 million in damage to homes and businesses.
The University of Alaska, Fairbanks lies on a hill and served as a safe place for evacuees. 8000 Fairbanks residents crowded into the dormitories meant for 1000 until their homes could be accessed.
The rain kept falling the entire month of August 1967, and over all 6.20 inches (15.7 cm) fell, almost triple the average August rainfall of 2.20 inches (5.6 cm). The Tanana Valley State Fair was postponed, but not cancelled.
Residents took advantage of any sunny days to dry their homes and belongings.
The flood of 1967 is a huge part of Fairbanks history. The terrible tragedy, and those who passed away, will never be forgotten.
This video by UAF Digital Archives shows an aerial view:
The 10 Most Horrifying Natural Disasters That Ever Happened In Alaska. Or see Horrifying Photos From The Deadly 1964 Alaska Tsunami.
Do you have a memory of the flood of 1967 in Alaska? Tell us about it in the comments below.