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Gov. Declares State Disaster for 2011 Storm

December 5, 2011, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sean Parnell has declared a state disaster for the 2011 West Coast Storm. The declaration authorizes the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to activate the state’s Public and Individual Disaster Assistance programs, and request a Federal Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance.

On November 7, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a coastal flood warning for the western coastline of Alaska, from Hooper Bay to the North Slope. The NWS forecast hurricane force winds and strong sea surges. The state, in partnership with NWS, contacted each community within potentially affected areas, and urged local emergency managers to prepare for the storm.

“Communities took the proper protective measures and reduced the damage from this potentially devastating storm,” said Governor Parnell. “All along the western coast, communities established safe places for residents to wait out the storm, activated their emergency operations plans, and protected property from the coming storm. By working together at the community level, and as individuals, we can reduce the impact of the threats we face.”

More than 35 communities and two boroughs have reported impacts from the storm, including damages to roads, airports, helipads, electrical distribution systems, sea walls, and utilities. A State/FEMA Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment Team visited 15 communities following the storm and reported a wide range of minor and significant damages from high winds and coastal flooding.

“As we focus on the more severely impacted communities and help them rebuild, we will not lose sight of the communities with minor damages. The collective weight of minor damages can have a lasting impact on a community,” said Governor Parnell. “Along with the activation of our state’s disaster recovery programs, we will seek a federal disaster declaration.”

Activation of the state’s Public and Individual Assistance programs will enable the state to provide grant funding to individuals and families for damages to their homes and property, and help restore public facilities to their pre-disaster condition.

The state’s Public Assistance program is designed to help state, local and tribal governmental entities, and certain private non-profit organizations restore infrastructure damaged by a specific event to pre-disaster conditions.

The state’s Individual Assistance program is designed to provide timely assistance to individuals and families to meet eligible disaster-related necessary expenses, and serious unmet needs. In 2010, Governor Parnell introduced successful legislation tripling the maximum possible state Individual Assistance award. For the current year, that maximum amount is $15,700.

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