WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Disaster aid is being made available for Alaska, to help communities there recover from a series of severe winter storms that began December 21. The storms were so severe they triggered avalanches and flooding.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued for the state on February 17. The declaration covers damage to public property from the storms.
Witt designated the municipality of Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, the borough of Matanuska-Susitna, and the Valdez-Cordova Census Area eligible for federal funding to supplement the recovery needs of affected local governments. He indicated that more jurisdictions and additional forms of assistance may be designated later based on the results of ongoing damage assessments.
Under the declaration, Witt said the federal government will pay 75 percent of the approved cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the storms, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. Federal funding also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
William Lokey of FEMA was named by Witt to coordinate the federal relief effort. Lokey said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected areas.