Gov. Mike Dunleavy, seen here at an event at the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal in March, on Tuesday issued a state disaster declaration for the Suicide Basin flood that occurred during the weekend. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, seen here at an event at the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal in March, on Tuesday issued a state disaster declaration for the Suicide Basin flood that occurred during the weekend. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Governor issues state disaster declaration for Suicide Basin flood

Decision triggers relief funds for individuals as well as public entities

A state disaster declaration for the record flooding from Suicide Basin that damaged or destroyed dozens of homes was issued by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday, who authorized relief for both individual property loss and public infrastructure.

The declaration was made verbally Tuesday morning following the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, meeting as the Committee of the Whole on Monday night, passed a local emergency declaration that sent the formal request for assistance to the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said Jeff Turner, a spokesperson for the governor. The verbal decision is sufficient to officially trigger the availability of such assistance.

There are two types of emergency assistance — individual and public — and Dunleavy’s declaration for Juneau’s flooding includes both, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesperson for the DHS&EM.

“The individual assistance can provide grants to people for both damages to housing and to personal possessions, and then we can also provide up to 18 months of housing for homeowners and three months for renters with our temporary housing program,” he said.

The public assistance category “covers damage to critical infrastructure,” Zidek said. It can also include reimbursing costs of emergency responses and protective measures related to the disaster.

Two residences were destroyed, one partially destroyed, 15 were condemned as uninhabitable and about two dozen more sustained varying levels of significant damage, according to an assessment by city officials Monday. Damage to public infrastructure included a utility lift station, and property and fenceline loss at the Mendenhall River Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Deputy City Manager Robert Barr said Monday the dollar amount of all assistance needed is unclear, but estimated it is likely in the “multiple millions” and a more specific cost estimate will be shared in the coming weeks.

The timeline and amount of state assistance will be determined as circumstances develop, Zidek said. He said during the initial period, when people forced out of condemned homes are seeking immediate shelter, local resources initially are utilized while the state implements its assistance process.

“Folks like the American Red Cross and Salvation Army that are working with the City and Borough of Juneau to identify those needs,” he said. “Many times it’s a hotel in the short term, and then we look at those intermediate timelines, intermediate housing and long-term housing.”

The state will issue notifications when it activates its individual assistance process, as well as reaching out to entities like the city, tribal organizations and others involved in relief efforts, Zidek said.

The city is also seeking federal emergency assistance, which Zidek said is larger in scale, but also stricter in scope. Federal assistance, for instance, can include low-interest Small Business Administration loans to both homeowners and businesses.

“Their threshold is about twice as much as what our state’s individual assistance program can deliver,” he said. “But there’s a lot more kinds of requirements for it as well. At the state level we’re a little bit more flexible.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of House Bill 143 on Friday. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House approves relaxed environmental rules for ‘advanced recycling’

Applies to facilities using high heat or chemicals to turn plastic garbage into raw materials.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon (right) discusses the Juneau School District’s financial crisis with school board Vice President Emil Mackey (right) and City Attorney Robert Palmer during a meeting Thursday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Meetings to comment on Assembly’s proposed $9.6M of help to school district scheduled next two Mondays

Plan includes $4.1 million no-interest loan, picking up “shared costs” this year and next.

A crowd overflows the library at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé on Thursday night as school board members meet to select a consolidation option to help resolve the Juneau School District’s budget crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders approve putting grades 9-12 at JDHS, 7-8 and HomeBRIDGE at TMHS

Elementary schools will be K-6; Marie Drake, Floyd Dryden to close this fall if plan gets final OK.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives celebrate the passage of a sweeping education bill on Thursday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes $680 BSA increase, with other education provisions

Bill now returns to Senate, which must pass it unchanged before it can head to the governor’s desk.

House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage, speaks during Thursday night’s floor debate on an education bill. (Screenshot from livestream)
House approves $680 BSA increase, extra support for charter schools in education bill

Bill passes by 38-2 vote, Senate expected to concur with changes after days of negotiations.

Musicians perform Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, at Devil’s Club Brewing. The event was among the first three allowed under a newly amended state law. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Three Alaska alcohol manufacturers sue state over rule limiting live music and entertainment

Plaintiffs say limit of four events annually at breweries and distilleries violates First Amendment.

A previously unidentified Eastern North Pacific right whale surfaces in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska in September 2023. The discovery of this whale was hailed by scientists studying the critically endangered population. Members of the public are being asked to choose a name for the animal through an online contest that will use bracketed competition. (Photo by Bernardo Alps/NOAA Fisheries, International Whaling Commission and WildSea Inc.)
Agency asks public to name, get to know member of highly endangered Alaska whale population

NOAA wants people online to name Eastern North Pacific right whale spotted in September.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 21, 1994. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Feb. 25

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Most Read