The Matanuska–Susitna Borough declared disaster for the sustained, severe winds that have torn off rooftops, flipped airplanes, and tipped semis, as well as left some 20,000 households in the dark at one point, since beginning New Year’s Day. The declaration requested that Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy declare a Disaster Emergency and make State financial disaster assistance available to the Mat-Su Borough in its response and recovery from this event. Yesterday, in a press release, the Governor agreed to do so. "We are devoting State resources to helping our vulnerable communities."
Despite all the hardship the winds have caused, there have been no reports of loss of life or significant injuries due to the storm.
For residents without power, the Borough opened shelters in Wasilla at the Menards Sports Center Palmer Junior Middle School. Both shelters are staffed by the American Red Cross, providing a temporary warm place to sleep along with food and water. Pets are not allowed; however, the Mat-Su Animal Shelter has limited space for pets. See the FAQ regarding pets.
Matanuska Electric Association’s Jennifer Castro spoke at the Borough’s news conference yesterday, led my Manager Mike Brown, sharing the challenges of line workers working in the harshest of conditions to retore power to residents and businesses. Castro said other utilities are sending additional workers to help restore power to residents. Castro and others at MEA have kept the public informed on the progress and setbacks in nearly 24-hour updates.
“The Mat-Su region hasn’t seen a wind event this significant since 1979”, according to Aviva Bauer, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We can expect winds to continue through Wednesday.
Mat-Su Borough School District Superintendent Dr. Randy Trani reported that school facilities are relatively unscathed and fully functional; however, he did announce extending the school closure, sighting safety to students as the main reason.
Mat-Su Borough Mayor Edna DeVries’ offered words of encouragement. She promised continued regular updates online for residents and businesses. She also thanked MEA for their tireless work. “This is MEA’s community, they love this community just as we do. We know they are doing everything possible to restore power.”
A Wind storm information hub has been posted to the Borough Website and share to social media.
A call center is available for people to call with non-emergency quetions; 907-861-7900