The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is awarding the City of Seward disaster relief after a storm in December severely damaged a road that leads to a small village south of town.
City Manager Jim Hunt said a strong tidal surge in the Gulf of Alaska combined with strong southerly winds sent waves crashing over Lowell Point Road during a high tide cycle in Resurrection Bay.
“We actually had waves coming up and over onto the road because it was eroding the road bed. I declared a state of emergency, sent that to the borough mayor asking for assistance,” Hunt said. “They did and forwarded our request to president Trump’s administration, to FEMA.”
Hunt adds that the waves also damaged RV parks near the city.
FEMA announced Friday that it would pay for 75 percent of repairs to the road. Hunt said the city still needs to assess exactly how much those repairs will cost.
“We’re looking at likely in the $4 million to $5 million range. We’re still trying to narrow down the exact cost for the FEMA participation,” Hunt explained.
The city will be required to pay for a quarter of the repairs, and it plans to have the road assessed by September to determine the exact cost. Hunt says FEMA funding will only pay for damages caused during the storm.
Hunt said road will still be drivable throughout the summer, but he notes the roadway can be narrow at times and shoulders could be soft.
“As you’re heading south, the left side is bay – some areas drop off to 400 feet right off the road,” Hunt said. “On the right, you have the mountain face. It’s quite an adventure right now taking that trip south, that mile and a half.”
Hunt said the city hopes to begin repairing the road after the summer tourism season.