Following winter storms, Governor Walker declares disaster in Savoonga and Gambell

Savoonga. (Photo by Anna Rose MacArthur, KNOM – Nome)

Governor Bill Walker has issued a disaster declaration for the winter storms that struck Savoonga and Gambell at the end of 2016. Almost $3 million in public assistance, state individual assistance and temporary housing assistance will be given to the St. Lawrence Island communities.

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According to a press release, Governor Walker signed the disaster declaration on February 1st. This declaration allows the State of Alaska’s public and individual assistance programs to help communities repair utilities, public buildings and other critical infrastructure that was damaged by the storm.

In order to repair the more than 30 damaged homes in Savoonga, as well as the City of Gambell’s water tanks and other damaged buildings, the estimated cost is a total of $2,850,061. Even though the State’s Disaster Relief Fund does not have enough to cover the millions in costs, leftover money from previous state disaster funds, such as the 2011 Spring Flood disaster fund, will be appropriated to meet the need.

Michelle Torres with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), said a team from the division will travel to St. Lawrence Island sometime next week to provide assistance.

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Davis Hovey is a news reporter at KNOM - Nome. Hovey was born and raised in Virginia. He spent most of his childhood in Greene County 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville where University of Virginia is located. Hovis was drawn in by the opportunity to work for a radio station in a remote, unique place like Nome Alaska. Hovis went to Syracuse University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Broadcast Digital Journalism.