The storm in Western Alaska will bring in an enormous relief and recovery effort from the likes of FEMA, the Red Cross, and other disaster organizations. But what families in Western Alaska need right now is cash.
Luckily, there’s some of that coming their way, thanks to the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, which will be deposited in bank accounts starting Tuesday.
When Gov. Mike Dunleavy set Sept. 20 as the date for the release of the dividend, little did he know that families in Western Alaska would be in dire straits after a massive storm hammered the west coast of the state, flooding communities, taking out the power, and making life miserable.
That $3,284 for every eligible resident will allow people a bit of breathing room as they make decisions about how to function in the short-term in places like Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Golovin, Newtok and Nome, which are the hardest hit. The amount is the largest dividend in the program’s 41-year history.
The economically insulated in urban Alaska have criticized the dividend amount as being too large this year, because they say that people in rural Alaska drink away their dividends; the implication is that brown-skinned people from villages cannot make good decisions with money. This year’s dividend is a combination of a negotiated amount for the dividend, and an extra amount to help with high fuel costs in Alaska.
Meanwhile, about 20 Red Cross personnel from around the country are flying out to the Western Alaska communities on Monday, and FEMA is already on site in Bethel and Nome with command centers in advance of an expected federal disaster declaration, which will allow a greater mobilization of services and funds.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy is expected in Bethel this afternoon after surveying some of the damage in Western Alaska. National Guardsmen are also being deployed to help remove debris and provide other assistance.