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Final report released on FEMA response to Galena flooding

By Lauren Maxwell 6:56 PM June 24, 2014

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has come out with its final report on how well the Federal Emergency Management Agency responded to the flooding disaster in Galena last year. The agency said FEMA acted appropriately to try and bring aid to villagers, but it could have done a better job.

FEMA was criticized for it’s slow response, but the mayor of Galena said it was a learning experience for just about everyone. Mayor Jon Korta said the agency wasn’t prepared for the challenges of rural Alaska and villagers weren’t prepared for the bureaucracy they would have to navigate to get things done.

“We all knew how short our building season is and you keep hearing help is coming, help is coming, but we’re like, ‘yeah, but so is winter,’” Korta said. “It took quite a while to get things geared up.”

The Department of Homeland Security made four specific recommendations for FEMA to improve services. The agency has accepted them all. They include working more closely with local community members and tribal organizations.

“Hopefully neither side would have to go through that situation again anytime soon,” Korta said. “Although FEMA, that is their business, and they will have other disasters in the future. I’m sure they learned some things and will improve on their delivery of services in the future.”

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