Gov. Mike Dunleavy is asking the federal government for $58.7 million in emergency disaster aid linked to the earthquake that struck Southcentral Alaska Nov. 30 but warned the number could grow to $100 million or higher when more public infrastructure damage is included and more detailed assessments are completed this spring.
“We’ll see what’s uncovered when the snow melts, so we expect this number to grow,” Dunleavy said in a briefing with reporters Jan. 3. There may also be additional damage from aftershocks, the governor said.
The total requested so far includes $10.6 million for private property, mostly dwellings, and an $48 million for infrastructure, state officials appearing with the governor said. There will be additions when road damage figures are updated.
So far there have been 7,700 requests for financial assistance filed with the state by individuals., said Bryan Fisher, Chief of Operations at Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The totals are based on information reported by property owners but last Friday teams of building construction estimators began visits to with owners of damaged structures to verify the initial estimates, Fisher said.
It will take time for federal officials to approve the state’s request but in the meantime property owners can draw on a state disaster fund to help pay expenses. “We have sufficient. (state) funds available until we hear on the federal request,” Fisher said.
Meanwhile, the state is contracting directly with hotel and building owners to provide emergency housing for residents in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Municipality of Anchorage displaced from damaged homes. There is a three-month limit to the period housing assistance can be provided, however, and the amounts of assistance based on federal housing fair market rental rates.
Meanwhile, some costs for public building and infrastructure repairs in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough will be paid by a $25 million earthquake insurance policy, borough manager John Moosey said in an interview Friday, with additional reimbursement for expenses likely to come from the federal government.
Most, but not all, of the additional costs may be paid, state officials said earlier. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal government’s main emergency responder, typically reimburses up to 75 percent of costs with 25 percent left to be paid from local sources.
Moosey said four schools in the Mat-Su were heavily damaged with one, Houston Middle School, an older school built in the 1980s, likely to require a major rebuilding or replacement. A replacement cost could over $30 million, he said.
The other three schools, Colony Middle School, Colony High School and Finger Lakes Elementary, sustained significant damage, which can be repaired, Moosey said. Mat-Su’s school district is relying heavily on portable classrooms while the schools are out of commission.
Damage to residences is less in the Mat-Su than in parts of Anchorage like Chugiak, Eagle River, and Sand Lake. Fewer homes are so damaged in Mat-Su that they cannot be reoccupied until repaired.
The state request for federal disaster assistance listed two homes destroyed, 53 heavily damaged and 19 with minor damage, in the Mat-Su. In Anchorage, seven homes were destroyed, 235 suffered major damage and 200 suffered minor damage, according the request.
Moosey also gave credit to the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for a fast response to road damage in the borough, particularly on Vine Road. He particularly praised new DOTPF Commissioner John MacKinnon for quickly mobilizing local contractors for road work without regard for whether the road was federal, state or locally-owned.
Vine Road, for example, is a borough road, Moosey said.
DOTPF was able to act fast by using local contractors already under contract for road maintenance with the borough, he said.