Dunleavy seeks federal earthquake relief
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday filed a request with the federal government for a major disaster declaration, which could trigger funds to offset the $100 million of damage from the region's 7.0 earthquake on Nov. 30.
That figure is expected to grow, especially with aftershocks as strong as magnitude 5.0 continuing weeks after the temblor that damaged schools and roads across Southcentral Alaska.
“We don’t know how these aftershocks are going to manifest themselves so it doesn’t help the situation,” Dunleavy said at a morning news conference. “I believe the Trump administration and others – FEMA – understand the nature of an earthquake, unlike a fire that may be over in a couple of days or a flood, this thing may take some time to really figure out and assess all the damage.”
If Alaska’s relief request gets approved, school districts, local and state governments could receive federal reimbursement for up to 75 percent of their infrastructure costs. Individuals can receive nearly $35,000 but residents but less if they receive state assistance.
"We understand this is going to be a long-term event with these continual aftershocks,” Dunleavy said. “The fact that we are in winter and what spring will uncover and what summer will uncover, we’re anticipating that the assessment will grow in terms of damage."
According to the latest damage update from Dunleavy’s response team, more than 7,700 people have applied for state assistance. Bryan Fisher, the state’s incident commander, said that number is expected to grow to 10,000.
Fisher said 151 individuals from 46 households are still receiving state shelter assistance. There is no timetable for when the state can expect to learn whether it will be eligible for federal assistance.
Dunleavy said it’s unclear whether the federal government’s partial shutdown will affect how soon the state gets a response.
Alaska already received a federal emergency declaration on Nov. 30, which would have covered any necessary search and recovery efforts.
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