KENAI — A staffing shortage has prompted the state disaster office to push back the start date for October Kenai flooding victims to register for individual grant assistance.
The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said Tuesday they now plan to open disaster assistance centers, as well as online and telephone registration during the week of Dec. 8, the Peninsula Clarion reported. Officials had initially planned to do so the week of Dec. 2.
Officials said the delay would allow out-of-state contractors to arrive and be properly trained on procedures.
It’s not unusual for the state to take a few weeks to get rolling with disaster assistance, state emergency management spokesman Jeremy Zidek told the newspaper.
On Nov. 18, Gov. Sean Parnell declared the Oct. 28 flooding on the Kenai Peninsula a disaster. The clock started ticking for those affected to apply for state individual assistance, which covers renters, homeowners and private businesses affected by the October flood.
Kenai Peninsula Borough officials estimated that 120 homes were affected by the flooding and that $2.1 million in damages occurred to private property from flooded septic systems, flooded basements, furnaces and tainted wells, the Clarion reported.
“We strongly encourage everyone to apply for state individual assistance,” Zidek said. He added that “each application will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”
With the 60-day clock ticking to apply for grants open, the state plans to host a three-day disaster assistance center at the borough’s office of Emergency Management during the week of Dec. 8.
Zidek said the assistance center is the best way for individual claims to be registered.
State emergency management has contracted with Adjusters International, a company with 45 offices around the country, including three in Oregon and one in Seattle. A call to their office by the newspaper Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned.
Damage from the Kenai flooding reached its peak during the heavy rains of Oct. 27 and 28, though at least 30 homes suffered from a slow-moving high-ground-water event in the months prior. According to state emergency management officials, only damages from the two days in October will qualify for assistance, which can reach a maximum of $15,834.50 per household.