Thousands of Alaskans apply for earthquake assistance
The number of Alaskans applying for assistance in the wake of the 7.0 earthquake on Nov. 30 has now topped 8,700, according to state officials.
Jeremy Zidek, with the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is encouraging people to apply for earthquake assistance online before the Jan. 29 deadline. Zidek said the maximum the state will pay in individual assistance grants for earthquake damage is $17,450.
"If [residents] had damage to their home, their personal property, their transportation or have medical or dental expenses as a result of the disaster, they may be eligible for some state individual assistance," said Zidek.
So far the state hasn't issued anyone a check, but Zidek said that's expected to happen soon.
Another program Alaskans can apply for with the state is temporary housing grants. Zidek said that program is for people who can no longer live in their homes because of earthquake damage.
"If their home is uninhabitable, homeowners can receive up to 18 months of rental assistance while renters can receive up to three months of rental assistance," he said.
But the big question on many people's minds is whether Alaskans will be able to get money from the federal government. Gov. Mike Dunleavy requested a federal disaster declaration from President Trump on Dec. 3.
If funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is approved, Alaskans could be eligible for up to $34,900 in assistance. Zidek said the state is hopeful it will hear something soon.
But some people, like Cheree Burgan, may not be fully reimbursed for their damages even if they receive maximum state and federal assistance funds.
Burgan's Jewel Lake home sank 10 inches after the earthquake. The shaking left cracks in her ceilings and walls, some of which are stuffed with sheets to keep out the cold. Burgan and her family are still living in their house.
"There's a fear factor here," Burgan said. "Who knows when there is going to be another earthquake?"
Repair bills for Burgan's home, including raising her residence, will likely be tens of thousands of dollars more than any aid she receives.
"We haven't figured out the money part yet," she said.
Zidek says it's possible her family may qualify for a low interest loan through the Small Business Administration, provided a federal disaster is declared.
Editor's note: The number of Alaskans who have applied for state earthquake assistance is 8,700, not 87,000 as reported in an initial version of this story.
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