Alaska needs more federal resources to recover from typhoon, says Murkowski

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A bicameral bipartisan contingent of Alaska lawmakers led by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to waive the state’s share for tied federal aid to recovery efforts from Typhoon Merbok, which hit the West Coast of Alaska earlier this month.

“This waiver will go a long way toward repairing storm damage to bridges, roads, water treatment plants, homes, airstrips, etc.,” Sen. Murkowski said Sept. 27. “Rural communities before the storm were already challenged, and it is imperative that we help them get back on their feet so that they can return to their homes and meet their basic needs like running water.

Following a federal declaration of major disaster requested on Sept. 20 by Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, Sen. Murkowski, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and U.S. Representative Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK ) sent a Sept. 22 letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell requesting a 100 percent waiver of the state’s cost share for individual and federal public assistance with recovery efforts for 30 days, citing that high costs will require more federal resources.

“We recognize the cost that accompanies the destruction of key infrastructure, but we must also consider the challenges that are not immediately obvious – slow-moving disasters such as water damage and the loss of cultural and livelihood tools” , said Sen. Murkowski. “The financial needs to replace such a large loss are far too great without further assistance.”

For example, preliminary assessments over 1,000 miles of coastline include damage to bridges, roads, water treatment plants, homes, bulk fuel tanks, sea walls, breakwaters, to berms, airstrips, generators and power plants, according to the lawmakers’ letter.

“I visited a number of affected communities over the weekend including Nome, Elim, Golovin, Hooper Bay and Chevak. Throughout my visits, I spent time speaking with tribal leaders, community members, the National Guard and many others, who showed me firsthand the severity of the damage and the amount work that remained to be done on the road to recovery,” said Senator Murkowski.

In their letter, lawmakers also noted that their waiver request would reflect FEMA’s arrangement for the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico and that they expected Criswell to issue a decision that is fair to Alaska.

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