Obama declares disaster for November storms

by Ben Matheson on January 24, 2014

President Obama has declared a disaster for the November storms that beat up the Bering Sea Coast. The declaration affects the Bering Strait, Lower Kuskokwim and Lower Yukon regions that took on high water and ice in the Bering sea storm. Kotlik was cut off from its water supply and more than a dozen homes were impacted.

The state earlier this year accepted applications from impacted governments and individuals. The state verifies damage and pays 25 percent. FEMA can now step in and cover about 75 percent of those government costs, according to Marybeth O’Leary, an external affairs officer for FEMA region 10.

“If the agency that had the damage finds they had more if the weather changes they can resubmit that and ask for more funding. The damage has to have occurred during the time of the event, but it does not necessarily have to be discovered right now,” said O’Leary.

Individual assistance is all done through the state department of Emergency Management. FEMA deals with governments, agencies, and non-profits. The federal declaration also includes money that can be used to prevent future disasters.

“It is used in an attempt to make another disaster not as impactful on communities. The state can actually use it anywhere within the state but they try to concentrate on places where this disaster was impactful,” said O’Leary.

FEMA works with the state to finalize reimbursements. The agency is still working with a team in Anchorage from last spring’s flooding.

“What is working well is that we already have people in place from the disaster that happened last May and June on the Yukon river. So many of the those people who were working on that disaster will now start working on these disasters. So there already have people in place and there won’t be a lot of time for set up or logistic support,” said O’Leary.

The state submitted a request of 11.6 million dollars to the federal government.

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