White House declares disaster for spring Yukon and Kuskokwim river flooding

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Aug. 24—WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued a major disaster declaration for spring flooding along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, ordering federal funding for recovery efforts.

Historic ice jam flooding damaged communities on the rivers in May. In places like Circle and Crooked Creek, homes were lifted from foundations and battered by ice and floodwaters. Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a state disaster declaration in May that opened up funding for recovery and emergency response.

The White House's declaration makes additional money available for those affected by the flooding in the Copper River, Kuspuk, Lower Kuskokwim, Lower Yukon and Yukon Flats Regional Educational Attendance Areas. Those grants can assist individuals and business owners with temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses, among other programs.

Applicants generally have 60 days from the White House declaration to apply for Individual and Household Program assistance, according to FEMA spokesperson Natalie Shaver.

State, tribal and certain local governments and private nonprofits are also eligible for aid on a cost-sharing basis in the Bering Strait School Regional Educational Attendance Area, as well as the Copper River, Kuspuk, Lower Yukon, and Yukon Flats Regional Educational Attendance Areas. That funding can go toward emergency work, repairs or replacements for damaged facilities in designated areas.

These applicants must submit public assistance requests within 30 days of the federal disaster declaration. They must also show that the damage is in the eligible area, that they have a legal responsibility to perform the work and that the cost is reasonable, Shaver said in an email.

Federal cost-sharing money is also available for statewide hazard mitigation measures, according to the White House announcement.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate the federal recovery work.

Residents and business owners who qualify for the federal aid can begin applying online at DisasterAssistance.gov. They also can call 800-621-FEMA (3362), or apply through the FEMA app.