By Blake Essig
6:45 PM AKST, November 28, 2012
Less than a day after President Obama signed off on a disaster declaration issued for the State of Alaska, several areas affected by September storms began the process of applying for federal assistance.
The Alaska Gateway, the Chugach rural education areas, and the Denali, Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna boroughs are all areas covered by Wednesday’s declaration.
Michael O’Hare, deputy director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says the federal disaster declaration increases the response and recovery to the local communities for repair facilities and critical infrastructure.
For the storm-battered communities, the opportunity to get assistance and repair roads, railroads, bridges, power lines and anything else damaged by the storms is a relief.
“We had our emergency operations center open, we had our shelter open for a few days for those who were displaced from the flood,” said Seward City Clerk Johanna Kinney. “All of that is (costing the) time and money of your staff and volunteers, so the city will be looking for assistance in that regard.”
Mat-Su Borough officials say affected communities will have three years from the day the declaration was signed to apply for federal grants.
The federal aid program works on a cost-share basis. That means the State of Alaska is responsible for covering 25 percent of the cost, while the federal government will take care of the other 75 percent.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency public assistance officer will be coming up to Alaska on Monday to meet with community officials.
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