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Disaster declaration announced for Little Diomede by Gov. Dunleavy

Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a disaster declaration for Little Diomede in a press release last week (Friday, Dec 8), in response to the partial collapse of the city building at the end of November.

The shifting of the building caused the school to close indefinitely and switch students to online learning. According to the release, a structural engineer from the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) and representatives from Kawerak, the Bering Strait region’s tribal consortium, assessed the situation in Little Diomede on Sunday, December third. 

The release says the DOT&PF engineer suspects that ground settling and the age of the city building contributed to the collapse. A member of the Alaska State Defense Force in Little Diomede is now in communication with the State Emergency Operation Center.

The city building, which housed city offices, the fire department, and the post office, is undergoing equipment removal. A temporary post office has been established in the old clinic according to the release.

Jeremy Zidek, a public information officer for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security, says that contractors are actively demolishing the building, but the timeline is heavily dependent on weather conditions. 

The village is only accessible by air in the winter and by boat when the ice thaws.

The disaster declaration activated the state’s Public Assistance program, which will reimburse local governments and nonprofits for emergency protective measures and infrastructure repairs.

Photo at top: Little Diomede, a village in the Bering Strait, is only accessible by aircrafts during the winter. (KNOM archives)

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