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Governor Requests Federal Economic Injury Declaration Related to Taylor Highway Damage

August 26, 2010, Juneau, Alaska - In an effort to bolster small businesses suffering from damage to, and closure of, the Taylor Highway, Governor Sean Parnell requested a federal economic injury declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Once the SBA issues a federal economic injury declaration, affected businesses will be eligible for low-interest loans. The request for federal aid follows a state disaster declaration issued by Governor Parnell on July 26. Heavy rainfall on the Yukon River Basin had washed out sections of the road between Chicken and Eagle and caused landslides, erosion and drainage damage.

Governor Parnell cited "substantial economic injury" to businesses in the area in his letter to SBA Director Alfred Judd requesting a federal economic injury declaration.

"Damages from the event forced road closures, which limited summer highway traffic, disrupted commercial, private, and tourist travelers, and caused economic injury to local and regional businesses," Governor Parnell wrote. "Repair to these roads is still forthcoming and may not be completed before annual winter road closures."

Three significant periods of rainfall between July 10 and August 5 contributed to record flooding in the area. The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which established emergency access to the highway after it was washed out, estimated damages at more than $18 million. Officials from the Office of Economic Development and Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security also participated in disaster mitigation efforts, and OED will continue to conduct outreach to the business community in advance of a response from the SBA.

"The cooperative interagency response has alleviated some of the immediate distress to travelers and residents in the area, but the economic hardship to businesses along the Taylor Highway will continue for months," said Susan Bell, who oversees the Office of Economic Development in her role as commissioner of the state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. "Summer visitor traffic is the lifeblood of small businesses in the area. We are hopeful the Small Business Administration will be able to supply financial assistance not otherwise available on reasonable terms."

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