Assembly receives quake assistance briefing from state, feds
It was supposed to be a meeting examining whether Anchorage is prepared to handle a major earthquake, but Wednesday the Anchorage Assembly’s Public Safety Committee hearing changed the theme to, “How are we doing?”
The focus of Wednesday’s hearing at the Assembly Chambers took a drastic turn following Friday morning's 7.0 quake and more than 2,000 aftershocks since.
Assemblyman Fred Dyson, who chairs the committee, invited state and federal officials to field questions from the Assembly and residents affected by the earthquake.
“I wanted to find out the weak spots in our preparedness and what we could do better next time around,” said Dyson, whose Eagle River community was hit especially hard. “We got a good list of things to look at that. We did well, and we want to do better in the future and be more prepared.”
Residents whose homes sustained damage learned of state individual assistance program and prospective federal programs.
Those eligible for state programs can receive up to $17,450, said Sam Walton, Alaska’s Disaster Assistance Program manager Sam Walton said during the two-hour briefing.
“Certainly, it’s a very stressful situation,” Walton said. “It’s ongoing. The ground is still shaking. There are people who have damages to stuff and there are people who have damages to their homes. That’s very upsetting and can create a very emotional environment. So, to be able to hear that they have partners and a path forward I think is always helpful.”
Residents may also be eligible for federal assistance, said Michael O’Hare regional administer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
Applicants could receive up to $34,900, but state and federal awards cannot be combined.
O’Hare said it’s too early to say whether Alaskans will be eligible for federal help under the individual assistance program. FEMA still needs to receive a major declaration disaster request from the state, O’Hare said.
“We are still assessing the damages for critical infrastructure, public buildings and those individuals affected,” he said.
Homeowner Matthew Robison, whose Jewell Lake home sustained damage, said he appreciated the hearing.
“As far a general information and how things are moving forward, it seems like it’s being covered,” he said.
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