Gov. Sean Parnell signed an administrative order Wednesday declaring disaster in the tiny city of Pelican, thereby granting the municipality access to as much as $100,000 in disaster relief funds.
The order follows the collapse of the city's water flume during severe rains in August. The flume supplies drinking water and powers a small hydropower plant.
"The failure of this simple flume created a number of complex threats requiring immediate emergency measures," Parnell said. "The quick response and teamwork from local and state agencies averted those threats."
The state relief funds can be used to cover emergency response efforts and temporary and permanent repairs to the Pelican water supply system.
Pelican was without drinking water for several days until a temporary bypass line and gasoline-powered pump restored the water-supply system. For electricity, the city's been running diesel backup generators.
A third disaster consideration was the volatile liquid ammonia coolant stored at the city's shuttered seafood processing plant, Pelican Seafoods. Once the biggest business operation in the city's economy, the plant closed last year. However, the ammonia remains and must be kept cold or under pressure - which requires reliable electricity - to prevent it from turning into a gas and being released into the air, where it can be dangerous.
The administrative order also directs state agencies to work with the city to develop long-term solutions to potential health threats at the city's abandoned seafood processing plant.
At the time of the flood damage, Alaska Energy Authority was working to upgrade the city's hydroelectric plant. The Department of Environmental Conservation also was working to build a new water treatment plant and water storage tanks. Both agencies authorized their joint contractor to assist the city with initial emergency measures.