KTUU: UPDATE: President approves Alaska disaster declaration for Nov. 30 earthquake
President Trump declared a federal disaster for the State of Alaska Thursday, allowing federal funds to begin flowing to the state for earthquake recovery efforts.
According to a release from the White House, federal funding in the form of grants, low-interest loans, and other programs will now be available to people affected by the earthquake in the Municipality of Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
"Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments," the White House said.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration on Jan. 3 under the federal Stafford Act, due to damage caused to Alaskan infrastructure by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked the state on Nov. 30.
Initial damage assessments and costs for things like temporary housing have reached around $100 million according to figures provided by the state.
Affected residents can apply for assistance by registering at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
Gov. Dunleavy expressed gratitude to the President in a statement Thursday.
“Almost one month ago, I asked the President to declare a federal disaster in the aftermath of the November 30th earthquake. Today, we’re pleased to announce that request was granted,” Gov. Dunleavy said.
In a statement following the declaration, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young thanked the President for approving the disaster declaration.
"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,” the Alaska Congressional Delegation said in the statement.
More than 13,000 applications for individual assistance have been received by Alaska Division of Homeland Security. The individual family grant program, which can provide up to $17,450 for repairs to real estate damages that may have occurred, as well as medical or dental expenses as a result of the earthquake. The state also offers a temporary housing program for up to 18 months for homeowners and three months for renters.
The federal declaration activates the federal individual assistance program which allocates up to $34,900 and Small Business Administration loans at low interest rates for earthquake-related losses not compensated by insurance.
"There are multiple different avenues that people who had damage can take, and it's important that people apply for all of the different programs, because what may not be eligible under one program may be eligible under another," said Alaska Division of Homeland Security spokesman Jeremy Zidek.
The state and federal programs don't, however, duplicate benefits.
The state's individual assistance deadline is Feb. 28. Affected residents can apply for state assistance at ready.alaska.gov or by calling 1-855-445-7131.
By: Daniel Kirby