President Trump has approved a long-sought federal major disaster declaration stemming from Southcentral Alaska’s Nov. 30 earthquake, freeing funds for people affected by the massive 7.0 temblor.

“The president's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and Kenai Peninsula Borough,” White House officials wrote in a Thursday statement.

 
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At a news conference called by Gov. Mike Dunleavy just after the federal declaration Thursday afternoon, Alaska Adjutant Gen. Torrence Saxe said 300 to 400 federal officials will be heading to Alaska to assess the extent of earthquake damage and potential federal relief.

"There's no cap on the federal (relief)," Saxe said. "They're going to come in, they're going to do their assessment, but there is no federal limit."

Alaska's congressional delegation quickly congratulated Trump on Thursday's decision, saying that it will also unlock help to the state as it deals with damage from the quake's nearly 8,000 aftershocks.

“We greatly appreciate the Trump Administration’s swift attention to Governor Dunleavy’s request for a major disaster declaration following Alaska’s recent 7.0 magnitude earthquake which caused widespread destruction and severe damage,” the delegation said. “Alaskans are resilient, evident in the initial response to the earthquake. But sometimes we need help, especially given a natural disaster of this scale. This federal assistance will do much to help Alaskans rebuild and repair the damage. We’re also grateful to our colleagues who have shown support here in Congress, and to the many people across the country who reached out, offering help to Alaskans who were impacted.”

Bill Walker, Alaska’s governor at the time of the quake, has already declared a state disaster in response to the quake’s widespread damage. Thousands of Alaskans have already applied for state disaster relief, with current Gov. Mike Dunleavy extending the deadline to do so until Feb. 28.

Saxe said Thursday that more than 13,000 Alaskans have already applied for state disaster relief, and the administration is encouraging anyone whose property suffered damage from the quake to do so before next month's deadline.

Almost immediately after the quake, Walker had sought a federal disaster declaration from the president. According to Walker, Trump told him at the time that “We’re going to fix Alaska.”

Applications will be taken through the federal website disasterassistance.gov. People seeking assistance can also call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-465-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired, seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Alaska time.

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