More than 400 Alaskans receiving FEMA financial assistance after Merbok

Nome subsistence camp
A subsistence camp in the Nome area after the historic September storm hit Western Alaska. (Courtesy Bridie Trainor)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has disbursed more than $3.3 million to help Western Alaskans rebuild after ex-typhoon Merbok struck the coast a month ago.

According to a recent email update from FEMA, 422 Alaskans have been approved to receive individual assistance thus far. A third of the awarded funds – $1.12 million – have gone to housing assistance while over $2.1 million has been disbursed to cover other needs, such as subsistence equipment and replace furniture.

FEMA notes it cannot cover damaged or destroyed fish camps, but State of Alaska assistance can go towards rebuilding those structures.

During last week’s Alaska Federation of Natives convention, some attendees told KNBA radio that the individual assistance being awarded by FEMA is just a drop in the bucket. It isn’t enough to cover a four-wheeler or snowmachine, let alone the cost of building materials.

According to FEMA, the agency is providing a “shipping supplement” of $1,300 within the housing grant to help Western Alaskans cover shipping costs. FEMA says so far, a total of $143,236 has been provided to 104 households for housing assistance specifically.

IA Daily Snapshot 10/24/22 at 8:00 AM AKDT
Total Registrations819
Daily Registrations13
IHP $ Approved$3,387,713.37
HA $ Approved$1,215,826.81
ONA $ Approved$2,171,886.56
IHP $ Disbursed$3,455,431.99
HA $ Disbursed$1,226,127.43
ONA $ Disbursed$1,226,127.43
Inspections Issued640
Inspections Returned506
% Complete79.06%
Inspectors in the field4
HA Max Award4
HA Max $ Award Approved$151,600
ONA Max Award0
ONA Max $ Award Approved$0
Alaska IA Hotline
Total Hotline Calls333
Total Registration Intake135
Table provided by FEMA, on October 24, 2022.
*HA is Housing assistance– Getting survivors into secure and safe housing, rental assistance, lodging expenses reimbursements, home repairs, to repair uninsured home damage. Home replacement, financial assistance for homeowners who must replace or rebuild primary residence.
*ONA is other needs assistance, financial assistance to repair or replace common household items but not limited to furnishings, appliances, essential tools that supports necessary assistive devices or technology.  May provide financial assistance for services to remove contaminants and disinfect surface areas of the home affected by floodwaters. ONA may also provide for replacement of Subsistence items essential to survival for many families. Boats, motors, ATV, Freezers.  TO QUALIFY for ONA survivors must register with FEMA. To receive ONA survivors do not need to show damage or loss of housing

Officials with FEMA are also in the process of doing home inspections and helping residents register for assistance across the region. They were in Hooper Bay and Chevak over the weekend and currently have officials in Golovin.

Those seeking disaster funds as a result of Merbok should apply for both the State of Alaska assistance and FEMA assistance. The deadline to apply for federal assistance with FEMA is Nov. 22, while the State of Alaska deadline is Nov. 17.

The Anchorage-based FEMA hotline is currently open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, at 1-866-342-1699.

According to the agency, storm survivors without a physical street address may have challenges applying via the FEMA online application. These survivors are advised to apply by calling FEMA’s Alaska disaster assistance hotline listed above.

Davis Hovey is a news reporter at KNOM - Nome.

Hovey was born and raised in Virginia. He spent most of his childhood in Greene County 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville where University of Virginia is located.

Hovis was drawn in by the opportunity to work for a radio station in a remote, unique place like Nome Alaska. Hovis went to Syracuse University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Broadcast Digital Journalism.

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