Alaska federal disaster assistance increased to 100% of eligible recovery costs after western storm damage

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While the nation’s eyes glued to Florida and Hurricane Ian’s path of destruction, Western Alaska is still recovering from major storm damage that occurred two weeks ago. Although the number of people impacted is smaller than in densely populated Florida, the disaster to some communities is nearly as great, and a flurry of work is under way now, work that is expected to continue for months, even as cold weather sets in.

A C-130 cargo plane should be arriving in Nome today full of building material and other necessities. A barge has arrived in Golovin from Nome with building materials, and Fish and Game is reminding people in Western Alaska that they can use hunting proxies if they are elderly or disabled.

President Joe Biden has amended the disaster declaration for Western Alaska to increase the level of federal funding for the recovery. The federal funding that was set at 75 percent of the total eligible costs, but has now been increased to 100 percent for the first 30 days of the incident period. That is the same reimbursement level that Biden guaranteed for the major disaster caused by Hurricane Ian.

Alaska’s west coast storm, a remnant from a Pacific typhoon, has destroyed several dozen homes and severely damaged others. Many structures that were seasonal subsistence shacks and sheds were also destroyed, as was the subsistence equipment stored in those structures.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared the disaster on Sept. 17, the day the storm hit. By Sept. 21, he issued a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration. Two days later, the Biden Administration approved the declaration, which has already brought significant aid to the region and activated a comprehensive response from the Federal Emergency Management Agencies.

National Guard

This is one of the largest national guard activation in many years in Alaska. Over 120 personnel from the Alaska National Guard, Alaska State Defense Force, and Alaska Naval Militia Alaska (Alaska Organized Militia – AKOM) are on orders for disaster response and are deploying by aircraft to hub communities and then to local communities to assist with materials for immediate emergency temporary residential repair and storm debris cleanup, including clearing public areas and assisting private residences.

Some 80 members of the National Guard were deployed to Bethel and 30 to Nome, with additional personnel providing support.

Guard teams have also been sent to Hooper Bay, Newtok, Tununak, Golovin, and Shaktoolik, with teams heading to Chevak and Nightmute. The Alaska National Guard is deploying personnel to Koyuk with 5,000 sandbags to rebuild a damaged embankment in the community.

Alaska National Guard and other forces have removed more than 65 tons of debris as of Tuesday from affected communities and worked over 2,000 man-hours. The State Emergency Operation center has extended orders for some Alaska Organized Militia service members through Oct. 7 to meet ongoing response needs in communities.

Department of Environmental Conservation

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is working on reports of local contaminant spills and water/wastewater issues in Branch I and II, which are the southern and middle parts of where the storm hit.

DEC is evaluating community water systems in the storm impact area and is publishing boil water notices as appropriate. DEC has deployed a representative to the Anchorage-based U.S. Coast Guard Incident Command Post to coordinate assessment and clean-up efforts. The Coast Guard completed preliminary environmental impact surveys with DEC. The Coast Guard has assessed 32 communities for pollution concerns and noted significant concerns only persist in Chevak.

The Coast Guard reports that storm impacts have not impacted west coast communities from receiving bulk fuel deliveries with over-the-shore “soft hose” delivery available in places where the usual systems are inoperable.

Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys

Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys is in the storm impact area collecting high-water marks to record and calibrate the storm’s historical impact.

The National Weather Service is utilizing the division’s findings to adjust forecasting for impacted communities due to the seawall and sea barrier damages.

Department of Transportation

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has reopened all airports in the storm impact area and is working to repair roads and state facilities.

Crews continue to assess roads across the impacted area and have started drone surveys in several communities. Crews are also assisting local jurisdictions with repairs as possible. Maintenance and Operations Division is repairing damaged portions of the Nome-Council roadway.

DOT is providing contract support for emergency building material deployment in Golovin.

United States Army Corps of Engineers continues to complete surveys in the affected areas. Teams deployed to Shishmaref, Unalakleet, and Kivalina this week for additional site surveys. USACE contractors surveyed the Nome port and determined the port is safe to operate normally, though the west side of the entrance sustained shoaling.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

ANTHC has received community donated salmon and ANTHC Native foods program manager is storing it prior to delivery to communities in need.

Branch I:
Teams visited the following communities: Chefornak, Chevak, Hooper Bay, Kipnuk, Napakiak, Napaskiak, Newtok, Scammon Bay, and Tununak.

Napaskiak sustained damage to the garbage dump and planned to hire locally to assist with community cleanup. Napakiak sustained damage to the school heating system, which has been offline since the storm, but new parts have arrived and full repairs are planned this week.

Branch II:
Teams completed flights to Golovin, Elim, Unalakleet, Stebbins, Koyuk, and Kotlik last week. State Department of Health is providing the community of St. Michaels personal protective equipment and technical assistance for re-internment of human remains.

Branch III:
The State Emergency Operation Center has been in contact with the Northwest Arctic Borough’s incident management team as well as the communities of Kivalina, Deering, and Wainwright. There are no reports of damage at this time.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah we currently have over 6 million people without power. Most roads are underwater because of the 20 plus inches of rain that have fallen on top of the onshore storm surge. It’s a mess for sure. I was watching The village idiot biden’s news conference today and he wouldn’t even call DeSantis by name, rather he just referred to him as that state’s governor. I’m going to give him the benefit of that he doesn’t even know his name. Biden claims to have called out the national guard which isn’t true because only the governor has that authority. DeSantis was in town here yesterday giving a speech out at the fairgrounds where there were thousands of utility trucks staged. DeSantis organized over 30,000 crews to come in and restore power as soon as it’s safe to do so and the water goes down. They had them staged all along other northern border and other towns wherever hotel beds were available. Helicopters are even available to drop in water and supplies and generators. Many roads are destroyed and boats and helicopters are their only way in and out. We were high and dry but went through some high winds. The hurricane has now resurfaced on the Eastern shore and his building strength again headed for South Carolina. It won’t be anything like we felt, but it may impact Captain Danny Brown and his Ride along this weekend on On patrol live.

    • You are wrong about the National Guard. The President can mobilize them and when he does they fall under federal military jurisdiction. It’s great that President Biden mobilized the National Guard to help Floridians and declared a federal disaster. Ironically, when governor Desan5is was a member of Congress, he was against federal aid to the folks in New York and New Jersey after hurricane Sandy. Now he suddenly is in favor of using federal aid to support storm victims.

  2. Is it logical to be against federal involvement in Alaska, ie, federal “overreach” AND accept federal money to help with the disaster on the west coast ?

    • No, it isn’t. The state government should have its own emergency fund. Unfortunately, we are far too irresponsible to budget for that. It’s not like we’re on the Ring of Fire or anything.

  3. When it comes to rebuilding, Floridians will be fortunate to receive a small fraction of the sort of federal largesse that has been repeatedly shown for the warmongering in the Ukraine.
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    Our federal government stinks from D.C. to the far side of the globe.

    • We’re pretty screwed up. From Ft Meyers on up I-4 to the space coast, then north to Georgia.lot of prime high dollar real estate gone. Roads even gone. Going to take many years to rebuild.

      • There is never a good time for something like this, but this is definitely a bad time for it to happen. I have been looking for a place to donate what little I can afford in comparison to what is necessary, and I found the Florida Disaster Fund.
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        From their website:
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        The Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. In partnership with the public sector, private sector and other non-governmental organizations, the Florida Disaster Fund supports response and recovery activities.

        Donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and are tax deductible. Up to 3%, however, no more than $30,000 will be taken from each donation to cover administrative costs, including but not limited to staff salary, indirect costs and credit card and bank transaction fees.

        The Florida Disaster Fund distributes funds to service organizations that will serve individuals within their communities with disaster response and recovery.

        If you prefer to donate by check, please make your check out to “Volunteer Florida Foundation” and include “Florida Disaster Fund” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Volunteer Florida Foundation at 1545 Raymond Diehl Road, Suite 250, Tallahassee, FL 32308.

        If you have any questions, please contact Volunteer Florida at 850-414-7400 or [email protected].
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        I believe that it is still safe to anticipate that the Americans in the crowd will be contributing to the efforts to rehabilitate Florida and comfort those who losses extend beyond physical repair. The peoples hearts are still golden.

    • Thought they had bioweapon labs in Ukraine. USA money for the efforts. Maybe that’s where Covid originated and that’s why Putin is pissed?

  4. The Republican members of the House voted yesterday against the bill providing for funding for emergency relief for Alaska, Puerto Rico and Florida due to recent storms. Florida’s Republican members of the House voted against the relief funding as well. So will Governor DeSantis and Governor Dunleavey be public ally thanking President Biden and democrats for this emergency funding?

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