There has been a considerable amount of discussion among individuals and on social media regarding the recent winter storms and the different levels of government response.
It has been mentioned several times, we are in the unorganized borough – Yes, it is a borough. We are here by choice and most of us do not have a level of local government. The two municipalities in our census district, Delta Junction and Eagle, have local governments that receive significant federal funding due to payments by the federal government in lieu of taxes for government-owned land in the census district – des lands beyond their limits. The rest of us who support the community do so using alternative funding sources and receive little or no support from the recipients of these federal funds.
On Sunday, December 26, I contacted the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center as the head of the Deltana Rural Volunteer Fire Department about the impact of the closure of our only local grocery store in due to storm damage and problems. being caused by poor road conditions going to Fairbanks. As a courtesy, I have also informed the administrator of the city of Delta Junction of this activity.
I have also discussed the situation with our two state legislators.
The management of the IGA quickly moved to open in an adjacent space to provide basic necessities and continue to work to add additional space – reducing the immediate effect of the closure.
The Department of Transportation responded and assessed our needs to get to Fairbanks against requests for road clearance in other areas. In the end, the issues were resolved and the condition of the road between Delta Junction and Eielson AFB improved significantly – although probably not as quickly as we would have liked. Road conditions were much better at the end of the week, and they are now listed as fair on the DOT 511 website for national highways around Delta Junction and between Delta Junction and Eielson as they are listed as difficult to drive. ‘Eielson in Fairbanks and around Fairbanks.
We all need to be prepared and have food and supplies on hand to survive for several weeks without needing to get more items. For those who were not in this position, there was an immediate need. Individuals and groups have reached out to help those in need and many have benefited from these offers. I know where community groups and individuals brought food to people and where people were picked up and brought into town. I don’t know anyone without food, water, heat or other basic needs.
As I had discussions last week with state emergency management officials and other community members, it emerged that people were dealing with the aftermath of the storm by helping each other and helping each other. helping others, but we are not sure of the community’s long-term needs to survive the aftermath of the storm.
Now begins the process of examining the longer implications of the storm. Are the needs of those who cannot travel to Fairbanks on their own taken into account? Can people have fuel delivered to their homes? Are emergency services able to maintain their services in the long term under the conditions created by the storm and now extremely cold temperatures.
Local groups continue to reach out and help with transport and it is still unclear what the needs are and if they are being met. Is what is happening today sustainable as snow and ice spread over the ground for the remainder of the winter season? This is a question to be dealt with.
Fuel delivery is under review. If your local road or driveway isn’t clear enough for a tanker, or if they can get there, they can’t access your fuel tank, there’s a problem. A long term problem. I even got called today by my fuel delivery service because they can’t access my fuel tank, and I have to answer them – the call came as no surprise. And I have enough fuel so that it’s not an immediate problem, but it will be before the end of the cold season.
We are working on developing a sustainability plan to address these issues and the possibility of financial support from the state disaster fund is a plus.
So, as some have asked, why wasn’t a disaster declaration issued sooner? There was no need for it. Do you want the government to be in your pocket 24/7? We stood up as a community and responded to our immediate needs within the limits of our abilities. Now we have to look to the next six months.
Michael Paschall is editor and publisher of Delta Wind, chief of the Deltana Rural Volunteer Fire Department, and chair of the Delta Greely local emergency planning committee.