An aerial image of the Kramer Avenue slide, from a stack in the Fire Hall where a state team is helping affected Sitkans apply for aid. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

Today (09-02-15) , a state team sat down with Sitkans affected by last month’s landslides. Now that Governor Bill Walker has declared a disaster, new lines of relief funds are available for the next 60 days.

Six staff with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and one state geologist will be in Sitka for two days, to walk city officials and citizens through the process of procuring disaster aid. The Governor has capped aid to Sitka at $1 million.

In addition to public assistance, the state offers individual and family assistance for essential needs. That includes: all those who sustained damage to their primary property, primary mode of transport, or incurred expenses from medical, funeral, dental, or Sitkans who evacuated and paid for temporary lodging.


Debbie Reed is with the Division of Homeland Security, helping Sitkans apply for individual and family grants. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

“There may be people that had flooding in their homes from the water, from the run-off, and people may not have reported that,” said Debbie Reed with the Division. “We want those folks to come in as well.”

Reed adds, “[The damage or loss] has to be result of this rainstorm event, because the Governor’s declaration was specific with regard to this.”

That statute does not include homes under construction, as was the case for many involved in the Kramer Avenue slide. Even so, Reed says the state wants all affected Sitkans to apply and that Alaska is only one of five states in the country to offer grants to individuals and families.

“It used to be a $5000 cap. Our individual family grant program is by statute one half of the FEMA amount and this year that happens to be $16,450 dollars,” said Reed.

Inspectors will visit damaged properties and a mitigation team is also on the ground, gathering facts about the slide area and the potential for future slides. The division helps fund mitigation through state grants, but it’s too early to say whether they would do that for Sitka.

Reed says amid the travels of President Barack Obama and ongoing wildfires in the interior, Sitka is a top priority.

“In every single briefing that we’ve had, the first thing out of our incident commander’s mouth is, ‘Our first priority – regardless of anything else –  is Sitka.'”

Sitkans can apply for individual assistance in person at the Fire Hall tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or online at They are required to bring personal identification, proof of occupancy, proof of ownership or a rental contract, and a description of the damages sustained. The deadline is October 26th and applications take 3-6 weeks to process.


A topographical map of the Kramer Avenue slide. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)