Murkowski Calls on White House to Expedite Disaster Funds for Alaskan Flood Victims

Oklahoma Disaster Got National News Airtime, but Alaskans Are Suffering and Anxious to Rebuild

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today wrote President Barack Obama to ensure Interior Alaskans recovering from receding spring flood waters and devastating damage are given the same federal assistance to help their communities recover as all others across the nation.  In doing so, she stressed equal attention to Alaska’s rural community needs, saying it would be wrong “to exclude these communities from individual assistance simply because they are small and remote.”

“This spring, while the nation’s attention was transfixed on spring tornados in Oklahoma, the Native people of rural Alaska were coping with the annual spring flooding challenge,” wrote Senator Murkowski in her letter (attached). “Like the tornado season in the Midwest, the spring breakup period in rural Alaska is a significant source of anxiety for those who inhabit an entire region.”

As of June 12, 2013, the State of Alaska has reported the destruction of 15 homes, 107 suffering major damage, and an additional 72 having suffered minor damage – most of which was concentrated in the community of Galena.

Senator Murkowski suggests in her letter that while federal assistance for natural disasters is not necessary in every instance, it is in cases of widespread damage and destruction – like the ones seen in the suburbs of Oklahoma City or in remote Alaska Native communities like Galena.

In advance of Governor Sean Parnell’s anticipated request for federal disaster funds – after his declaration for disaster for communities within the “boundaries of the Alaska Gateway, Yukon Flats, Yukon-Koyukuk and Copper River Regional Educational Assistance Areas as a result of spring flooding” –  Senator Murkowski wrote to encourage “expediting all appropriate federal individual assistance to the disaster affected communities of rural Alaska” as communities in the region rush to rebuild in the short summer months before snow begins to fall.

“In recent years, I have expressed concern during deliberations of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee that far too many federal declarations issued for rural Alaska disasters exclude individual assistance,” wrote Murkowski. “I hope that this will not be the case this year. It would not be consistent with Congress’ recent determination to treat tribal communities, such as Galena, as states under the Stafford Act, to exclude these communities from individual assistance simply because they are small and remote.”