WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today issued the following statements after receiving a briefing from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long on the 7.0 earthquake which struck near Anchorage, Alaska Friday morning, causing extensive damage to infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.
“This natural disaster has been devastating for thousands of Alaskans, however, I am encouraged by the immediate response from FEMA, this Administration and our state officials,” said Congressman Young. “This earthquake represents one of the many challenges we face in Alaska but we can always rebuild and we are starting that process now. I want to thank all of the people who have reached out. My heart goes out to all of the Alaskans that are dealing with the aftermath. In this delegation, we all have family back in Alaska and we are grateful for their safety. We will continue to work together as a team to ensure federal assistance is available for Alaskans.”
“It’s been mere hours since this devastating earthquake took place in Alaska, but the delegation is very engaged with the situation. We are in the very initial stages of understanding the extent, but we know there has been significant damage to homes, roads, infrastructure, and schools. The impact is very real and will require a great deal of recovery and effort, but I have been assured that Alaskans will have what they need to deal with and recover from this very serious earthquake,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Alaskans are incredibly resilient but that doesn’t mean that when you’re hit with something of this intensity it doesn’t have a substantial and devastating impact. The message I want to convey to friends, family, and Alaskans across the state is that we are on top of this. It’s important to me that Alaskans know that even though they are 4,000 miles away from our nation’s capital-- we have all eyes on them and we are preparing mightily to address this disaster.”
“As Alaskans, we are resilient and there is no question in my mind we will come out of this natural disaster as a stronger, more resolute people,” said Senator Sullivan. “The damage on the ground, particularly to our transportation infrastructure, is significant and we’ve already begun the process to ensure Alaskans receive the full and unwavering support of the federal government. We have already received serious commitments from the leadership of the federal government – the President, Vice President, the FEMA Administrator, Secretary of Transportation and on down the line. As Alaskans begin the long road to recovery, we are focused on making sure every element of federal power, authority and funding is brought to bear on getting Alaska back up and running as soon as possible.”
The Alaska Congressional Delegation this afternoon spoke with Governor Bill Walker and local authorities on the ground responding to the natural disaster. They also spoke with Vice President Mike Pence, who offered his concern, prayers, and the administration’s support. In addition, the Delegation also spoke with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao who provided updates on highways and the Ted Stevens International Airport and assured the Delegation that the Transportation Department was mobilizing personnel and ready to assist.
Federal Response: FEMA has committed to provide whatever assistance the State of Alaska may require in response and recovery to the earthquake. FEMA currently has personnel on the ground in the State Emergency Operations Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) and has dispatched Deputy Administrator Peter Gaynor from Washington, DC along with Regional Administrator Mike O’Hare from Bothell, Washington to determine federal assistance requirements. Issuance of a federal emergency declaration by President Trump, at the request of the Governor, is the first step in opening the flow of federal relief money to Alaska. Following damage assessment, this could be upgraded to a federal major disaster declaration which would make additional federal funds available to the state. FEMA has also offered to make high level Federal Incident Management teams available to Alaska, if required.