Alaska governor seeks disaster declaration after earthquake
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government following the Nov. 30 earthquake that rocked Anchorage and other parts of south-central Alaska.
Dunleavy told reporters from Anchorage that the declaration, if approved, would free up money to help the state recover more quickly from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake. In his letter seeking the declaration, he wrote federal assistance is “essential to long-term recovery.”
Initial damage assessments and costs for needs such as temporary housing were around $100 million, according to figures provided by the state.
Dunleavy said he was awaiting word on whether the ongoing partial federal government shutdown would affect the state’s request.
But he said people at the federal level with whom state officials have been communicating are aware of the state’s situation and the government’s “obligation” to provide assistance.
Mike Anderson, a spokesman for Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, said by email that the state’s congressional delegation was working to minimize any potential disruptions to the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the partial shutdown.
Bryan Fisher, state coordinator in Alaska’s emergency management division, said he did not expect a state disaster fund to run out while awaiting word on the federal disaster declaration request.
Fisher said 7,700 Alaskans had applied for aid through a state assistance program, a number he said is expected to grow. He said the current number of disaster applicants is the largest he’s seen in 25 years on the job.
On the day of the earthquake, President Donald Trump tweeted that Alaskans had been hit by a “big one.”
“Your Federal Government will spare no expense,” the tweet stated.