Newtok’s request for disaster funding blocked

  • By The Associated Press
  • Saturday, October 21, 2017 9:09pm
  • NewsLocal News

ANCHORAGE — An Alaska agency has refused to submit an application for federal disaster funding by the riverside village of Newtok where erosion is threatening the destruction of several buildings.

Leaders of the western Alaska village had planned to use the grant money to buy out more than a dozen at-risk homes. But the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management ruled that their application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency was incomplete, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported on Friday.

Mike O’Hare, director of the state agency, said the village’s application was missing key elements, and the agency did not have time to address the issues. The agency would have been required return the money to FEMA if it did not meet the August deadline, so they directed the funding to communities with completed applications.

“We’re all frustrated; we all want them to succeed,” O’Hare said. “But we have bureaucratic requirements that we have to fulfill. Otherwise we’re being irresponsible with the people’s money.”

Mike Walleri, a lawyer for Newtok, said the action surprised the community, and they believe the agency has abdicated responsibility in the matter.

“We believe that was basically bureaucratic subversion of the plan,” Walleri said. “And we think that essentially Homeland Security is attempting to abandon the village.”

The governor’s office has since intervened, and the Newtok Village Council on Thursday met with Scott Kendall, the governor’s chief of staff, and Maj. Gen. Laurie Hummell, who oversees the state Division of Homeland Security.

The state officials proposed that Alaska National Guard units move temporary barracks from a military base to the new village site in order to provide housing. The officials also agreed to explore other options to acquire funding.

Walleri said O’Hare has apologized to the village on behalf of the state agency.

More in News

LaDawn Druce asks Sen. Jesse Bjorkman a question during a town hall event on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
District unions call for ‘walk-in’ school funding protest

The unions have issued invitations to city councils, the borough assembly, the Board of Education and others

tease
House District 6 race gets 3rd candidate

Alana Greear filed a letter of intent to run on April 5

Kenai City Hall is seen on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai water treatment plant project moves forward

The city will contract with Anchorage-based HDL Engineering Consultants for design and engineering of a new water treatment plant pumphouse

Students of Soldotna High School stage a walkout in protest of the veto of Senate Bill 140 in front of their school in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi students walk out for school funding

The protest was in response to the veto of an education bill that would have increased school funding

The Kenai Courthouse as seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clam Gulch resident convicted of 60 counts for sexual abuse of a minor

The conviction came at the end of a three-week trial at the Kenai Courthouse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Seward, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (screenshot)
Borough awards contract for replacement of Seward High School track

The project is part of a bond package that funds major deferred maintenance projects at 10 borough schools

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Most Read