HUD grants $35.8M to Alaska for long-term earthquake recovery effort

Construction began immediately to repair the ramp at the intersection of International Airport Road and Minnesota Drive after it collapsed during a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Friday, November 30, 3018 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Tuesday that it is giving $35.8 million to the State of Alaska. It is part of the agency’s response to last year’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake. 

The money comes from funds Congress approved for disaster recovery in communities across the country. And the state is responsible for deciding how to spend the money, following a recovery plan approved by HUD.

Colleen Bickford is the Housing and Urban Development Field Office Director for Alaska. She said this is the first time that Alaska will receive funds from this type of disaster recovery grant. 

“This [earthquake] was significant enough that when Congress appropriated additional funding to do this recovery work for this whole variety of different types of federally declared disasters around the country, that earthquake — the Anchorage, the Mat-Su, and the Kenai areas — made it into the pool of funds,” she said.

The state has already received more than $130 million in federal aid to help recover from the earthquake. 

But Bickford said much of that money was for immediate response and assistance. This new funding is targeted towards more long-term recovery efforts such as restoring businesses, housing and public infrastructure.  

“This is different funding that Congress appropriates specifically for longer term recovery recognizing that the initial funding doesn’t make communities or families or businesses whole,” Bickford said.

Bickford also said that the state will work with local communities to develop long term recovery plans, and HUD expects the process to allow input from residents, businesses and other people helping with the recovery effort.