AP NEWS

Alaska community seeks funds to move homes away from river

June 6, 2019

AKIAK, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska community with a rapidly eroding riverbank is seeking funding to relocate homes, officials said.

Money is available, but Akiak officials will have to go through a complicated bureaucratic process to obtain funding to save buildings in danger of falling into the Kuskokwim River, KYUK-AM reported Monday.

Akiak, a community of about 350 people on the river’s west bank northeast of Bethel, lost a one-mile (1.6-kilometer) stretch of riverbank to erosion in May, with parts of the river moving 75 feet (23 meters) closer to the community and putting one house within 15 feet (5 meters) of the river.

Moving houses and connecting them to services like water, sewer, and roads will cost millions of dollars, City Administrator David Gilila said.

“I can’t fathom even to estimate the dollar figure” Gilila said.

Federal agriculture and housing and urban development grants are available, said Joel Neimeyer, a consultant working with Akiak. “After the Anchorage/Mat-Su Valley earthquake in November of last year, Alaska is eligible for a lot of disaster funding,” Neimeyer said.

Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is working with the village on possible relocation funding.

The process is complicated. Akiak must obtain a contractor and conduct a planning process, submit reports to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and compete with other communities.

“If they don’t have an approved hazard mitigation process by October 31, they cannot compete,” Neimeyer said.

Neimeyer estimated a seawall could cost $80 million. For now, Gilila said the community is stabilizing the riverbank with metal poles and burlap tarps.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

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This story has been corrected show the state Homeland Security and Emergency Management is working with the village on possible relocation funding because erosion events are not eligible for disaster funding.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

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