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Governor Declares Disaster for Kenai Storms

December 12, 2011, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell has declared a state disaster for the 2011 Central Kenai Peninsula windstorms. The declaration authorizes the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) to activate the state’s disaster recovery Public Assistance programs and to request a Federal Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance. The Public Assistance program is designed to help state, local and tribal governmental entities, as well as certain private non-profit organizations, restore infrastructure damaged by a specific event to pre-disaster conditions.

A series of high wind events on the Kenai Peninsula, beginning on November 1, 2011 and continuing through November 19, combined with freezing temperatures and high water levels, resulted in widespread and severe damages to electrical distribution systems. Approximately 17,300 homes and businesses lost power for up to 48 hours.

“The absence of power in the middle of winter can have a series of negative effects that cascade throughout a community,” Governor Parnell said. “The Kenai Peninsula Borough and Homer Electric Association (HEA) did an excellent job restoring power. Now that the power is restored, discussions include potential mitigation efforts to prevent future disruptions of the power distribution system.”

On November 22, the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB) declared a Local Disaster Emergency and requested Governor Parnell make a Declaration of Disaster Emergency for assistance in recovering emergency response costs, and repairing storm-related damages exceeding local capabilities.

On November 28, a DHS&EM Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) Team deployed to Soldotna. Working with KPB, the PDA team estimates response and repair costs to be $2.6 million. The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities reports an additional $5.1 million in damages to Outer Beach Road.

During the November storm, KPB opened three warming stations and two evacuation centers. HEA hired an additional 32 linemen who, working with 21 HEA linemen, expedited repairs and successfully restored power.

KPB is requesting help from the public in determining the damages from November’s windstorms and power outages. Individuals with property damage from the November 1-19 storms are asked to complete a survey at the Borough web site www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency as soon as possible.

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