Bush approves Alaska's request for flooding assistance

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- President Bush on Wednesday declared a disaster area for portions of Interior and western Alaska hit hard by spring flooding.

The announcement means millions in federal aid for residents affected by the flooding and for local governments.

A rapid thaw sent water over the banks of rivers in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and nearly a dozen villages along the Kuskokwim and Nushagak rivers.

Gov. Tony Knowles issued a disaster declaration on May 29 and asked for federal assistance to help residents and communities that have been impacted.

The administration estimates that flooding has caused about $7.8 million in damage. Another $1 million in damage occurred in Nome after Knowles issued his disaster declaration.

The state Disaster Policy Cabinet plans to meet on Friday to consider whether to add Nome to the request for federal aid, said Knowles spokeswoman Julie Penn.

The communities included in the disaster request are the Fairbanks North Star Borough, McGrath and Lime Village in the Iditarod Regional Education Attendance Area (REAA), Aniak, Crooked Creek, Red Devil and Sleetmute in the Kuspuk REAA.

Kwethluk Village in the Lower Kuskokwim REAA; and Ekwok and New Stuyahok Villages in the Southwest Region REAA are also included.

Federal assistance could include disaster housing, grants, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property loss and other programs to help residents, the federal government said.

Local governments in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough could also receive federal funding on a cost-sharing basis for damage to public facilities.

Joe M. Allbaugh, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA officials said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional jurisdictions may be designated after the assessments are completed.

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