More than 400 Alaskans approved for FEMA financial assistance after Merbok

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A subsistence camp in the Nome area after the historic September storm hit Western Alaska. FEMA says it cannot cover damaged or destroyed fish camps, but State of Alaska assistance can. (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 — has 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.

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.

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