Many of the homes damaged in the Nov. 30 earthquake have yet to be repaired, according to Bob Doehl, director of development services for the Municipality of Anchorage.

Doehl says there are a number of reasons why homes with the most serious damage may still be waiting for repairs. One of the biggest is financial, as many people are just now receiving assistance from the federal government or the state.

Another issue is manpower. Many structural engineers and contractors have waiting lists, according to Doehl. Then there's weather and Alaska's cold climate.

"The ground wasn't declared or recognized, based on thermal sensors, as frost-free or appropriate for construction activities until May 8," said Doehl. "So until that is gone you can't really go in and ascertain, in the case of a soil failure damage, just what needs to be done and how to do it."

But some homeowners say they know what needs to be done. For Cheree Burgan, the question is how to pay for it.

Burgan's Jewel Lake home was yellow-tagged after the earthquake because of serious structural concerns. In some places, the foundation sank as much as 10 inches. She says the fix involves installing helical piers that screw into the earth beneath the foundation, then using hydraulic jacks to lift up the structure. Burgan said the estimate she got for the work was $109,000. She and her husband applied for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help defray the costs.

"When we initially filed the application, we received $4,300 from them," said Burgan.

Burgan and some of her Sand Lake and Jewel Lake neighbors who also had damage worked jointly on appeals. She says she got the news just two weeks ago that she had been granted $34,900, FEMA's full amount of relief.

"So that was good news," said Burgan. "That was awesome."

Overall, Burgan says the process has been slow. "There's a lot of questions that no one had answers for initially. I feel like there were a lot of unknowns for a lot of people."

Burgan is still living in her home with her family and says she's looking forward to the day they can once again feel safe there. But it may not happen for awhile. They are waiting for more reports and permits, and the company they want to do the work is pretty backed up. Worst case scenario, she says, the repairs may not happen till next spring.

The deadline to apply for disaster relief from FEMA is May 31. You can find resources at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Multilingual operators are available.

TTY users may call 800-462-7585. Lines are open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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