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Relief Efforts in Galena Continue As Winter Begins

Published On: Nov 18 2013 08:04:39 PM AKST   Updated On: Nov 17 2013 12:00:00 AM AKST

Galena’s city manager, Greg Moyer, says it will be at least another year before repairs in the town are complete, after the devastating spring flooding ice jams.

Moyer says residents are concerned because fixes are slow going with winter beginning.

“We’re now into mid-November and we still have some people in the shelter here in Galena,” Moyer said. “We still have some people in Fairbanks who have not moved back.”

Volunteers from FEMA have been working to fix outdoor and indoor repairs, like working on the plumbing for the water and sewage systems.

Moyer says much of the work that has already taken place is only temporary and that could present problems as winter continues.

“As far as temporary fixes that have been made, these are temporary, these are not finished products,” Moyer said. “People are going to be in their homes and we’re looking at minus 50 degrees in this region and winter will be the true test on how things are put together, so we’re already finding problems.”

According to Moyer, the problem is that the work was done by volunteers who may or may not have checked to make sure things like housing insulation was installed correctly.

“I looked at a home yesterday…you could put your hand over a vent and you could just feel the cold air blowing in because the insulation wasn’t put on right underneath, and the thing is then who pays for that?” Moyer said.

Moyer says the state and FEMA stepped in to provide funding and assistance to Galena, but the process has taken a lot longer getting supplies and resources to the area than he hoped.

Between 20 and 30 houses were deemed unlivable and will have to be torn down during the spring and summer of 2014.

Moyer says it's been a powerful learning experience dealing with the aftermath of the flooding.

"Many times it's frustrating, many times it can be rewarding but for any community to go through something like this and we're just trying to survive as a city here," Moyer said.