PALMER— Officials with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough met with state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management staff this morning (Thursday) to begin the process for declaring the destructive fire at Susitna Valley High a disaster.
"We hope to be eligible for emergency funding. We have 62 days to come up with a new school for 185 students and 25 staff," said Borough Emergency Services Director Dennis Brodigan. School starts Aug. 20.
"We don't have the money to cover all the expenses for recovering from this disaster, nor for the interim relocation n of the students and the building of a new school," Brodigan added.
Borough Manager John Duffy is expected to sign a disaster declaration Friday. An overview of the damage and recovery will be submitted to Homeland Security for review before it is submitted to Gov. Sarah Palin.
The high school fire was the largest structure fire fought in the MAT-SU Borough. It was also the largest mutual aid effort for a structure in the history of the Borough. Seventy firefighters were called out to the fire from across the Borough and as far away as Chugiak. The state Division of Forestry also fought the fire. Firefighters managed to save eight portables on site as well as prevent the fire from spreading into the forest and nearby neighborhoods.
"The Su Valley High School disaster has tremendous educational, community, and social implications," said Murph O'Brien, planning director. "It serves as the center for the northern Borough and provides an important tie among the communities of Trapper Creek, Talkeetna, the Y, and northern Willow."
The purpose of the meeting was to seek guidance from Homeland Security through the recovery phase.
"We're moving forward as fast as we can," said Mayor Curt Menard. "At the emergency Assembly meeting Tuesday we'll likely take action on portables and the interim location n of the school."
For more information contact Emergency Services Director Dennis Brodigan at (907) 373-8815.