Alaska News

Federal disaster declared for Southcentral earthquake

President Donald Trump called Alaska Gov. Bill Walker four times on Friday. The fourth time, Walker talked to him.

“I received a couple of calls from the White House on the Blackhawk (helicopter). It was not conducive to a conversation,” Walker said during an evening press conference.

After surveying the damage from Friday’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake from the air, Walker landed and was able to talk to the president by phone. He asked the president for a federal disaster declaration. Fifteen minutes later, Walker received a call from Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long, who said it had been signed.

“It opens up funding, it opens up opportunities to contract a little differently, a little more expeditiously in spending that money, and to be able to respond to the needs as to what’s taken place,” Walker said.

Walker said the disaster declaration did not specify a particular amount of aid but said it will support reconstruction.

According to a joint statement from Alaska’s congressional delegation, “FEMA currently has personnel on the ground in the State Emergency Operations Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) and has dispatched Deputy Administrator Peter Gaynor from Washington, DC along with Regional Administrator Mike O’Hare from Bothell, Washington to determine federal assistance requirements.”

The governor said he has also been in contact with the secretaries of transportation and Homeland Security.

Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy responded to the earthquake at the state’s emergency operations center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Walker said he kept the incoming governor in the loop with regard to the state’s emergency response, something confirmed in a press release by the Dunleavy administration late Friday.

Both men said that disaster recovery will not be interrupted by the transfer of executive authority on Monday, when Dunleavy is scheduled to be sworn into office in the northwest Alaska village of Noorvik.

In Washington D.C., Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young all received briefings on the disaster from Long, and each offered a statements by email and in a press conference held in the Capitol.

“Alaskans are incredibly resilient, but that doesn’t mean that when you’re hit with something of this intensity it doesn’t have a substantial and devastating impact. The message I want to convey to friends, family, and Alaskans across the state is that we are on top of this,” Murkowski said in a prepared statement.

“We have already received serious commitments from the leadership of the federal government – the President, Vice President, the FEMA Administrator, Secretary of Transportation and on down the line. As Alaskans begin the long road to recovery, we are focused on making sure every element of federal power, authority and funding is brought to bear on getting Alaska back up and running as soon as possible,” Sullivan said in his prepared remarks.

“We will continue to work together as a team to ensure federal assistance is available for Alaskans,” Young said in his statement.

This story was reported by James Brooks in Juneau and Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage.

Related stories:

7.0 earthquake, aftershocks strike Southcentral Alaska; damage reported across region

Utilities will work through night to fix widespread gas leaks and outages after 7.0 earthquake

Inspections underway across Southcentral Alaska for structural damage after earthquake, aftershocks

At 8:29 Friday morning, everyone emerged from Alaska’s big earthquake with a story to tell

State seismologist: 'Emotionally disturbing' quake was Anchorage's most powerful since 1964

Federal disaster declared for Southcentral earthquake

‘I have nowhere to go': Those displaced by earthquake bide time at Anchorage emergency shelter

Here’s how you can help those still reeling from the earthquake

Earthquake rattles shelves and shatters products at Anchorage businesses

APD: Southbound Glenn Highway temporarily closed to allow rush-hour traffic north out of Anchorage

Injuries, road damage and gas leaks reported in Mat-Su after 7.0 earthquake

Wasilla water safe to drink, Anchorage residents asked to boil as a precaution

Photos: Earthquake damage from the air

Anchorage schools, many Mat-Su schools to be closed Monday and Tuesday

Spokespersons for Walker and Dunleavy were on opposite sides of the table. Once the earthquake hit, they found themselves under it.

Photos: Ground-level views of the earthquake damage

Anchorage airport open again for arrivals after landings were halted due to earthquake

Tsunami warning canceled for Kenai Peninsula communities

Do you smell gas or hear hissing? Here’s how to shut off your gas after an earthquake

Oil and gas industry reports precautionary shutdowns, little earthquake damage

Earthquake information from public agencies, utilities and news staff

List of closures: Schools and services affected by Friday’s earthquake

State volleyball at Dimond on hold after earthquake; Alaska Airlines Center gym floor flooded

President Trump tweets encouragement to Alaska after earthquake

Sponsored