McKinley Fire

WASILLA — The McKinley Fire is at 3,288 acres and 95 percent containment, according to an update provided by the Alaska Wildland Fire Information website.

While the fire is nearly contained, there is plenty left to do, especially for the residents forced from their homes. At least 51 homes were destroyed in the flames and people from all walks of life are trying to figure out what to do next.

Multiple agencies across the community have been working around the clock to support displaced residents. This is a transitional period for agencies to assess short-term needs and long term care for residents.

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There’s a relief account set up at Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union.

Monetary donations to Mat Valley Federal Credit Union Acct#9900000135611 can be done at any location. Telephonic donations can go through the Sunshine branch at 907-733-4891.

Non-MVFCU members can make checks out to ‘USFP McKinley Fire Relief’ and drop them off at any MVFCU location.

Below are community resources for people affected by the McKinley Fire.

United Way of Mat-Su

The Department of Homeland Security recently awarded $88,152 in federal funds to the Matanuska Susitna Borough. These funds will funnel into the Emergency Food and Shelter Program that addresses hunger and homeless needs in the community.

United Way of Mat-Su oversees this program. These funds will be distributed to various agencies by a local board established for this program.

The award amount derives from the unemployment rate, total number of individuals below the poverty line and the total population.

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program is a needs based program. The minimum award amount is $500. Eligible program costs include served meals, food purchases for food banks/pantries/food providers/mass feeding, transportation for food banks/pantries and other food providers, mass shelter, other shelter assistance, rent/mortgage assistance, utility assistance, transportation for mass shelter/mass feeding.

Community organizations will use the funds to supplement and expand ongoing efforts to provide shelter, food and supportive services for locals with food scarcity, homelessness, and those in an economic crisis.

Displacement from a wildfire is considered an economic crisis so community groups can support McKinley Fire victims with these funds.

United Way of Mat-Su Executive Director, Stephanie Allen said these funds supplement but do not replace existing services.

The deadline for agencies to apply for funds is Monday, September 9. Allen said applications will be accepted all day. Qualifying agencies are urged to apply. For more information about the application, call 907-745-5821.

The United Way of Mat-Su is also an effective hub for anyone seeking help in wake of the McKinley Fire. They have numerous caseworkers ready to help people every step of the way.

For more information about how United Way can help, call 907-373-5807.

To make an online donation to the United Way of Mat-Su, visit unitedwaymatsu.org

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross recently closed their disaster relief shelter at the Menard Sports Center since evacuees have been able to return to their homes or have found longer-term housing with caseworkers.

The Red Cross is still offering disaster relief assistance including emergency relief supplies, health and mental health services, recovery casework, and planning services.

The Red Cross is connecting one-on-one with those who lost their homes in the fire to create recovery plans, navigate complex paperwork and locate help from other agencies.

Red Cross caseworkers will be available from Sept. 9 through Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to provide recovery planning services for those whose homes were destroyed by the fire. Red Cross caseworkers can be reached at 907-764-2407.

Emergency relief supplies will also be available as needed throughout the affected areas.

Those who still need supplies can call the Red Cross office in Wasilla at 907-357-6060. They offer emergency supplies like water, masks, storage totes, tarps, trash bags, shovels, rakes, brooms, gloves, blankets and toiletries.

Red Cross disaster health and mental health volunteers can be reached by calling the Red Cross recovery hotline at 907-764-2407.

Monetary donations help the Red Cross’ overall efforts helping people recover during disasters. Donors can visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is currently assessing the community needs moving forward. They’ve been helping the Red Cross at the Menard Sports Center, cooking food and offering emotional/spiritual support for evacuees.

The disaster shelter has since shut down but the Salvation Army is still offering nonperishable food, furniture and other household items based in individual needs.

They’re also offering vouchers to their thrift stores so people can pick up clothes and other amenities. People can use these vouchers at the Wasilla store or any other location.

To apply for vouchers, contact the Salvation Army’s family services line at 907-745-7079.

How you can help:

To make monetary donations to the Salvation Army, call 907-745-7079, Text ‘HELPAK’ to 243-725, or visit mat-suvalley.salvationarmy.org

Frontline Mission

Frontline Mission is currently collecting clothing, toiletries and other essential items for evacuees. They’re offering free, hot meals Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

They’re also offering shower and laundry services. They’re asking people to call ahead to schedule laundry services.

Frontline Mission is located 2001 E Palmer-Wasilla Hwy, in Wasilla and can be reached at 907-357-8600.

Additional services

Caseworkers can help displaced residents with various long-term care services including connecting people with existing social service programs, assistance with forms and paperwork for disaster assistance or insurance claims, access to counseling, relief supplies, child care, new housing, and immediate financial assistance.

State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

For displaced residents who’ve lost their homes in the fire, the first and most important step to take is filling out an application with the state’s disaster assistance program.

The McKinley Fire falls under Gov. Dunleavy’s disaster declaration so even those without fire insurance can get help rebuilding their homes or find a new one.

For more information about the state’s individual assistance program, see ready.alaska.gov/Recovery/IndividualAssistance#iahome. To apply online, visit ready.alaska.gov/IA. Disaster Assistance Program Manager, Sam Walton can be reached at 907-428-7039 or samuel.walton@alaska.gov.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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