State will help Togiak make necessary repairs to seawall that has been damaged by severe storms over two warm winters.
KDLG audio transcript: The powerful storms that battered Bristol Bay in late December wreaked havoc on the seawall in Togiak. That structure was damaged last year as well, during another warm winter that prevented a good freeze-up around the village shore.
The city applied for disaster relief from the state, and Governor Bill Walker announced Monday that the request had been granted. Jeremy Zidek is a spokesperson for the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management:
"The disaster declaration has activated the state's public assistance program. That program is designed to help communities restore critical infrastructure such as seawalls, roads, boardwalks, bridges, community buildings, and utilities that have been damaged during a disaster event."
Togiak’s seawall is about 30 years old, and had held up well until recent years. It protects some of the lower lying areas of the village from storm surge and flooding. Making the necessary repairs will not be cheap:
"We've got estimates of about $1.5 million for repairs to the seawall and the dock structure," said Zidek. "That's information we've received from the city's contracted engineering firm. So we'll start to work directly with the community, develop some project worksheets for it, and then those projects can go forward, and the community can make the repairs to the seawall."
When the Governor declares a disaster, the money comes from a special fund administered by the Governor and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Zidek says it’s up to the state Legislature to put the money aside for future disaster events:
"Each year, the Legislature appropriates money to the Diaster Relief Fund. The Legislature is now underway, so it's one of the items that they'll be considering during this session. We'll have to see what funds are appropriated for the 2016 year," said Zidek.
The City of Togiak has begun some preparation work, but has not released a timeframe on when the repairs will be undertaken or completed.