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Disaster Planning and Services Bill Gains House Approval

HB 366 establishes an Alaska intrastate mutual aid system

Friday, March 30, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House today gave its approval to a bill ensuring every community throughout the state is prepared for disaster and ready to receive aid if necessary.

House Bill 366 would establish an Alaska intrastate mutual aid system and direct the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management as the lead agency to coordinate mutual aid between state, federal and community responders across Alaska during emergencies and disasters where help is needed from one group to another.

The original framework for an intrastate mutual aid system was created in 2004 by the National Emergency Management Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The goal of the framework, and of HB 366, is for mutual assistance among the participating regions, boroughs, municipalities, and other local jurisdictions in the prevention of, response to, and recovery from any disaster that results in a formal declaration of a local disaster emergency.

“HB 366 will benefit those who participate by defining expectations when planning responses,” House Community and Regional Affairs Chair Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, said. “It will streamline the process when a disaster or other assistance is requested. It is a good public policy.”

The Alaska Disaster Act currently provides for individual communities to create their own mutual aid agreements. Muñoz said that this bill will not force municipalities to participate in a statewide mutual aid system or invalidate existing pacts of mutual aid with other communities already in place or in the future. A participant may elect to withdraw by enacting an appropriate resolution by its governing body.

Rep. Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon, who carried the bill on the House floor said, “House Bill 366 provides the tools necessary for our local communities to assist each other when disaster strikes. When the next big disaster happens, resources won’t sit idly by in one portion of our state when they are needed elsewhere. This is an opportunity for the people of Alaska to help each other in a moment of need.”

HB 366 has support from all across the state including the Alaska Municipal League, Alaska Fire Chiefs Association and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

HB 366 passed the House unanimously and now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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