Volunteers pitch in to make Eagle ready for winter

Posted: Friday, October 16, 2009

EAGLE - Relief workers in the flood-damaged Yukon River town of Eagle say everyone will have a place to stay for winter.

As many as 500 volunteers - many from outside Alaska - helped rebuild the town of 150 residents that was devastated in early May by a Yukon ice jam and flood.

"It's really kind of amazing, I think," said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "People who had their houses destroyed already have another place to live or have new housing."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency typically brings in trailers for homeless residents of disaster areas, but that approach was deemed uneconomical for the remote community.

Volunteers worked to build two styles of FEMA-approved log-cabin kits that were trucked in from Tok. A 20-by-20-foot model was available for single residents or couples, while a larger two-story version was built for families, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

FEMA funded the construction of 13 homes in Eagle and one in the village of Aniak, on the Kuskokwim River. Forty damaged homes were repaired in the Yukon River villages of Eagle, Stevens Village and Tanana and in the Kuskokwim village of Akiak.

Construction on the kits began June 11, and the first home was finished exactly three months later. Within 109 days, all of the homes were completed, Zidek said.

Rob Paire, a Pennsylvania contractor who served as volunteer coordinator, praised the government's response.

"FEMA did a stellar job," Paire said. "I know they got some bad press on other projects, but this one was really a home run, in my book."

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