Rural Alaska

Biden approves total federal coverage of Alaska storm recovery costs for 30 days

Nome Storm

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden granted Alaska a waiver to cover 100% of eligible recovery costs from Typhoon Merbok for 30 days following requests from Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state’s congressional delegation.

After the storm devastated dozens of Western Alaska communities this month, the Republican governor asked the federal government to cover 100% of emergency costs in his disaster declaration request. Biden on Friday approved the disaster request, meaning the federal government would reimburse Alaska for 75% of disaster expenses, but he did not grant Alaska the full waiver.

The governor and congressional delegation this week pushed Biden to reconsider, saying the added funding was essential for Alaska to rebuild from the storm before freeze-up. Before Biden’s announcement, the Alaska delegation was pursuing legislative avenues to secure funding for Alaska’s storm recovery efforts.

After the White House granted the waiver, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told reporters that Alaska is now in a “better position.”

Biden approved the same waiver for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona this month. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan pushed for that same same cost share arrangement for Alaska.

“A lot of times things that happen in Alaska and don’t make a lot of news down here, but that typhoon was massive,” Sullivan told reporters.

“We’ve been encouraging the federal government assistance,” he said. “I’m not complaining.”

Riley Rogerson

Riley Rogerson is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C., and is a fellow with Report for America. Contact her at rrogerson@adn.com.

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