Disaster declared for December storm in Western Alaska

Gov. Bill Walker has issued a disaster declaration for the storms that damaged some 60 structures in Savoonga and Gambell on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea.

The declaration activates the state’s 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 such events.

Strong winter storms produced hurricane force winds and storm surge conditions on St. Lawrence Island in the last week of December, damaging at least 30 homes in Savoonga and severely damaging a water tank at Gamble. That damage will require significant repair in the near future, Walker said in a statement Feb. 7.

The governor thanks the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for helping both communities at the time of the storm, and said the state is committed to helping with repair efforts.

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. Funds will be made 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.