Alaska Gov. Issues Disaster Declaration for Kaktovik

January 21, 2005

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski recently issued a state disaster declaration for the City of Kaktovik/North Slope Borough in response to a severe winter storm that knocked out power to the majority of the city earlier this month.

“The citizens of Kaktovik through this ordeal have been patient, courageous good neighbors,” the Governor said. “We are all relieved that the immediate crisis has been resolved with no serious injuries. But now we must get the community back up and running again as soon as possible.”

Kaktovik experienced prolonged power outages after a severe winter storm with extremely low temperatures and near hurricane force winds knocked down several power lines, causing the shutdown of the main power grid and generators. The lack of power resulted in the freezing of water and sewage pipes, causing severe damage to the school and unknown damages to individual homes.

On Jan. 9, the North Slope Borough requested state assistance in transporting life safety repair technicians to Kaktovik. The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management worked in conjunction with the Alaska National Guard to respond to the borough’s request. Weather conditions prevented the delivery of the technicians and other necessary supplies; such as generators, heating sources, and emergency food and water rations; until Jan. 11, when two electric technicians were transported via helicopter to the city to begin repairs of the power grid.

Improving weather conditions in Kaktovik over the following two days helped the Alaska National Guard deliver the three planeloads of equipment and emergency supplies and additional technicians. Technical specialists have since restored power to 90 percent of the community.

The North Slope Borough declared a local disaster and requested state assistance. Damage costs to infrastructure and individual homes are still being evaluated.

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