State and federal disaster survey crews have departed Western Alaska after visiting communities impacted by the fall storm. The team based in Nome left Sunday after surveying Nome, Teller, Brevig Mission and Unalakleet. A total of 16 communities were surveyed along the west coast of the state.
John Madden is the Director of the State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He says one challenge in understanding the scope of damage is the enormous area, ranging from Togiak in the south to Point Hope in the north.
The teams are now crunching numbers and compiling information to pass to on the Governor and his disaster policy cabinet. The Governor will make the decision on whether to declare a disaster and activate the state’s disaster relief programs. Governor Parnell could request a federal declaration if the damage is beyond the capability of the state’s disaster program. Madden intends to have the report to the Governor sometime next week, with a decision following soon after. He says the time and labor intensive portion of the process is happening right now.
The state has received local disaster declarations from Goodnews Bay, Kivilina, Nome, and the Northwest Arctic Borough. Madden says there are likely more communities that wish to issue declarations, but do not have the staff resources to do so.
Madden says the relatively small amount of damage is due to early warning, good local preparations, and some luck.
The Department’s Jeremy Zidek says the team in Nome had hoped to get to Little Diomede, but Evergreen Helicopters was not flying.
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