October 17, 2012 | Vol. 24 Edition 42

Aid for storm damages coming from state

Valdez property owners might be eligible for help

While Valdez may have been spared many of the problems that resulted from the multiple rainstorms that brought high winds and flooding to much of southcentral Alaska, not all property owners got off scot free. This is why the State of Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management has included Valdez in its disaster assistance program. It was created as a result of Gov. Sean Parnell’s Sept. 21 disaster declaration and a hotline has been set up for property owners to use to report damages and sign up for assistance.

Valdez Star photo
Ponds that are normally shallow threatened to overflow onto the Richardson Highway several times last September.

“We did talk to the city (Valdez City Hall) and they didn’t have lots of reports of damages,” said Jeremy Zydek, the agency’s public information officer. Despite this, he is encouraging anyone in Valdez that had even minor damage from rain, flooding or high winds from the storms to call the hotline. “If we can help them, we will. The disaster event was both a wind and rain event.”

That means assistance could be available to property owners that had damages from not only flooding, but high winds or rain.

Zydek said there are two reasons that it is important that homeowners fill out the state form for even minor damages.

First, seemingly minor damage can be found to be more extensive during the repair process, which means it can be more costly to fix.

“We can amend their application later” if hidden damage is later revealed Zydek said.

He also noted that minor damage reports from Valdez could help the state obtain federal aid to help finance disaster relief efforts in other parts of the state that were hit hard during the back-to-back storm systems.

“We need to gather that information in order to request a federal disaster declaration,” Zydek said.

Property owners in Talkeetna to the Butte were especially hard hit by high water, while Tanacross experienced extensive damages from high winds. Cordova initially had little damage to report, then later experienced several weather related emergencies.

“The disaster event was both a wind and rain event,” Zydek noted. “It’s not just the flood damage.”

Valdez experienced record rainfall during September, with the office of the National Weather Service issuing numerous flood warnings and high water watches throughout the month.

The Valdez weather service reported 26.15 inches of rain for September alone. The average September rainfall in Valdez is 9.61 inches and September of 2011 saw only 7.62 inches.

The almost non-stop rain caused several mudslides along the Richardson Highway during the month, and prompted many homeowners in the 10 Mile area to seek city help in sandbagging properties. The first deluge caused the Solomon Gulch Hydro Plant on Dayville Road to overflow, while other waterways throughout Valdez filled to brink. ADOT was forced to close the Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon at one point, when the Lowe River rose to lap at area bridges. The last large-scale emergency hit September 23, when the Glacier Stream – fueled by an extreme deluge of excess water – changed its course and cut into the dump road, which remained closed to the public this week.

Property owners in Valdez that sustained damage from the storms can call the state hotline at 1-855-445-7131. The phones are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The individual assistance application period ends on November 20 according to Zydek.

Callers should be prepared to give a description of the losses and damages in addition to home ownership documentation. Insurance information and personal identification are also required for the application.

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