Alaska delegation urges Biden administration to approve Western Alaska major disaster declaration

21.09.22

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska), and Representative Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska) sent a letter yesterday to President Joe Biden urging him to quickly approve Alaska Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s request ( R-Alaska) for a Major Disaster Declaration to support Western Alaska’s recovery from the effects of Hurricane Merbok on families, homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure in Alaska.

“This was the strongest storm in seventy years to affect our state” The Alaska’s congressional delegation wrote. “Damage in Western Alaska is extensive, and federal assistance is needed to help Alaskans recover from this devastating event and mitigate future severe weather.

“On September 16-18, 2022, the remnants of Hurricane Merbok caused widespread destruction and severe damage in Western Alaska. About a thousand miles of coastline were affected. Residents face widespread flooding. power, water and communication interruption. Serious damage to private homes, personal property and businesses…

“With very cold weather and frost in many parts of our state just weeks away, it’s important that Alaska has the resources it needs to provide heating fuel for the winter and quickly continue the rebuilding process.”

The entire letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to ask that you immediately consider Governor Michael Dunleavy’s request for a major disaster declaration under Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to support Alaska’s recovery from the impact of Hurricane Merbok in families, homes, Alaska businesses, schools and infrastructure. This was the strongest storm in seventy years to hit our state. Damage in Western Alaska is extensive, and federal assistance is needed to help Alaskans recover from this devastating event and mitigate against future severe weather.

On September 16-18, 2022, the remnants of Hurricane Merbok caused widespread destruction and severe damage in Western Alaska. About a thousand miles of coastline were affected. Residents face widespread flooding. power, water and communication interruption. serious damage to private residences, personal property and businesses.

Alaskans are resilient. Nowhere was this more evident than the actions of state and local emergency management teams, as well as first responders and public works personnel in the hours before landfall and now after the storm. Members of our State’s emergency response team are working day and night to ensure that our communities are safe and that utilities, services and critical infrastructure are back up and running as soon as possible. Alaska public servants are instrumental in mitigating the immediate effects of the storm in Western Alaska. However, much more needs to be done. Governor Dunleavy stated in his request that the damage was of such severity and scale that additional federal assistance was required to supplement the actions of our state agencies. With very cold weather and frost in many parts of our state just weeks away, it is critical that Alaska has the necessary resources to provide heating fuel for the winter and quickly continue the rebuilding process.

Hurricane Merbok hit more than infrastructure: it’s affecting Alaskans – especially those in rural communities who, for example, didn’t have broadband access or easy access to supplies before the storm, or for that matter roads to their communities. Some Alaskans have lost their homes, while others have lost vehicles essential to survival in rural communities and other personal possessions.

We are grateful for the immediate attention provided to the state by your administration and the Region 10 FEMA team during and immediately after the storm. We are writing urgently to ask for your speedy approval of Governor Dunleavy’s request, given the extent of the damage, the rapidly approaching winter weather, and the overall impact on Alaska. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.



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