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JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker issued a disaster declaration on February 1 for the West Coast storms that damaged approximately 60 structures in Savoonga and Gambell on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. The disaster declaration activates the State of Alaska public and individual assistance programs, which are designed to help communities make repairs to utilities, public buildings, roads, bridges, residential structures, and other critical infrastructure damaged by the event.
Beginning the week of December 26th, 2016, strong winter storms produced hurricane-force winds and storm surge conditions. The high winds damaged at least 30 homes in the City of Savoonga, and caused significant damage to a water-tank in City of Gamble on St. Lawrence Island.
“This storm damaged dozens of homes and infrastructure in these communities, requiring significant repair in the near future,” said Governor Walker. “I thank the dedicated staff at the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for helping these communities during a time of crisis. The state is committed to helping with repair efforts, so residents of Savoonga and Gambell can get back to their everyday lives.”
The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) sent two emergency managers to Savoonga to conduct an initial damage assessment with the communities and the American Red Cross of Alaska. In addition to gathering damage information, the DHS&EM staff provided local leaders with emergency response technical assistance. The team returned with a written disaster declaration from the City of Savoonga.
The state’s public assistance program is designed to help state, local and tribal governmental entities, as well as certain private non-profit organizations, restore damaged infrastructure to pre-disaster conditions. Funding will be available for emergency protective measures, temporary and permanent repairs to infrastructure, and technical and funding assistance needed to repair or replace damaged facilities.
The state’s individual assistance program is designed to provide financial assistance to individuals or families for damages to primary residence, primary mode of transportation, essential personal property and medical needs created as a direct result of a declared disaster and for which other assistance is either unavailable or inadequate. Homeowners and renters with homes that are damaged and unlivable may be eligible for state Individual Assistance Temporary Housing.