Galena evacuees still need homes

Associated PressSeptember 13, 2013 

FAIRBANKS -- The Tanana Chiefs Conference wants to find new temporary housing by the end of this month for Galena flood evacuees staying at a former hotel in Fairbanks.

The tribal consortium says no one will be asked to leave Willow House if alternatives are not identified, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Flooding from the Yukon River in May damaged or destroyed dozens of homes in Galena, a village of 500 about 270 miles west of Fairbanks.

About three dozen people evacuated to Fairbanks and were offered shelter in Willow House, part of a former Best Western hotel.

Tanana Chiefs bought the hotel in 2011. Willow House was created as a temporary home for village residents in Fairbanks for medical care. Another part of the former hotel is used as a homeless shelter.

At a meeting last week, some left with the impression that Sept. 30 was a deadline for finding alternative accommodations.

That's not the case, Tanana Chiefs said in an announcement.

"It has never been the intention of TCC or the State of Alaska to put people out on the streets. TCC has been working with the state of Alaska to transition residents into long-term housing," the consortium said in an announcement.

Spokeswoman Doreen Deeton said, however, alternatives are more suitable than rooms at Willow House.

"It's a hotel room," she said. "It lacks the basic facilities a family would need to carry on with their every day activities. It doesn't have a kitchen. It doesn't have the things that would help people be more self-reliant."

The flood was declared a disaster. A state grant pays costs of evacuees at Willow House and will cover temporary housing costs elsewhere.

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