GALENA -

A facility that cares for the elderly in Galena was out of operation for more than three months last year after a severe flood caused major damage.

Eight residents at the Yukon Koyukuk Elder Assisted Living Facility were evacuated to either Anchorage or Fairbanks shortly after a flood at the end of May last year.
Water entering the building caused an estimated $500,000 in damage and the rebuilding process took just over three months.

A facility administrator says getting federal disaster money to cover the damage was difficult and they had to fight for more assistance.

“We just put up a really good fight to establish that we are more than a residence, and they finally agreed and gave us the half a million,” said the facility's administrator, Agnes Sweetsir.

Sweetsir says the amount of assistance approved by FEMA wasn’t enough to replace everything.

“We could only afford to do a half a million dollars’ worth of repairs because that’s how much we ended up with. We didn’t get to repair our wood boiler system so we’re not on supplemental heat right now,” Sweetsir said.

She adds that losing the boiler has added $1,000 a month to heating bills. Sweetsir says the facility needs more residents if it is going to survive, but some elders are afraid of another flood and being displaced again.

The facility reopened on Sept. 1, 2013.