Dunleavy requests major disaster declaration from feds


Gov. Mike Dunleavy sent a 15-page request to President Donald Trump on Thursday, detailing the need for additional federal dollars and asking for a major disaster declaration under the federal Stafford Act after the Nov. 30 earthquake in Southcentral Alaska.

The dollars requested reach nearly $100 million already, but are expected to grow. Some earthquake damage may not be known until the ground thaws and snow melts this spring.

Dunleavy noted that more than 300 homes are uninhabitable due to damage from the 7.0 earthquake, and some schools will remain closed through the school year, awaiting repairs, many of which cannot be done in the winter.

Repairs to roads, bridges and public buildings were extensive and some were temporary repairs that will need to be redone in the summer months.

“My team has been working diligently – with our federal, state and local partners – over the past four weeks to assess damage, rebuild infrastructure and get Alaska back up and running,” Dunleavy said. “The November 30th earthquake caused significant damage – shuttered schools, destroyed homes, displaced hundreds of Alaskans – and we have determined that effective recovery efforts are beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments. In an effort to ensure Alaskans have every opportunity to recover, today we have formally requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration under the federal Stafford Act, which opens the door to an assortment of federal assistance programs to get Alaska back up on its feet faster.”

A presidential emergency declaration was made immediately after the earthquake, but Dunleavy’s request put the event in the “major disaster” category, which brings more federal relief.

The letter details actions taken by the State of Alaska subsequent to the disaster, an account that chronicles both the event and inventories of damage in the state’s most populated regions. It follows a format used by governors across the country when requesting such a disaster declaration.

[Read the Request-for-Presidential-Disaster-Declaration]

In August of 2018, California Gov. Jerry Brown also sent a 15-page letter to Trump asking that Shasta County be designated a major disaster after the Carr Fire and associated fire systems ravaged Northern California, and the Golden State received an affirmative answer from the Trump Administration the following day. The damage from the 2018 California fire season reached into the billions of dollars.

(Alaska will likely also receive a swift answer from the Trump Administration. This story will be updated.)