State assistance programs approved for Kenai Peninsula fire victims

Governor Bill Walker has approved a number of state assistance programs to help victims of Kenai Peninsula wildfires.

The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is opening a disaster assistance center in Sterling in July.

Spokesperson Jeremy Zidek says people who suffered damages because of the fire can apply for the state’s individual assistance program. That’s broken into two parts: individual and family grants and temporary housing.

“And the individual family grant program can help people with damages to their primary residence, their primary means of transportation, any essential personal property that was damaged by the fire, or if they have any medical expenses that were a direct result of the fire, those costs could be eligible for a grant,” Zidek said.

The temporary housing program helps people who can’t return to their homes because they’ve been damaged past a livable condition.

It can provide housing for up to 18 months for homeowners and up to 3 months for renters.

“We try to find housing that is comparable and the cost is picked up by the individual assistance program,” Zidek said. “The idea is to get people back into their homes as soon as possible, or some type of housing, so they can start that recovery effort.”

The center will be at Sterling Elementary School on July 7-8 and will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days.

Zidek recommends starting the application process beforehand online at ready.alaska.gov or by phone at 1-855-445-7131.

“And then go to the Disaster Assistance Center with a description of damages and losses, photos are very helpful, homeownership documents, insurance information, personal identification, and some type of proof of occupancy,” Zidek said. “From there, a verifier may be able to go out with them at that time and take a look at the damages on their property, verify that, and then complete the application.”

Anyone who is not able to come to the center while it’s open can still complete an application online or by phone.