Shishmaref Relocates Buildings

In 1997, under authority granted by the Alaska Statutes, Section 26.23.020, the Governor of Alaska declared that a condition in the City of Shishmaref warranted a disaster declaration in order to qualify for FEMA Disaster Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Act. An unusually early sea storm caused severe damage resulting in homes being eroded into tidewater and destroyed. Eighteen houses and the National Guard Armory were moved inland away from the quickly failing coastline. Many of the structures were mounted on Triodetic foundations, then moved inland while the storm was raging. The dirt road to the south end of the island was rerouted to enable access to critical facilities such as the landfill, airstrip, and dozens of households’ subsistence meat drying racks because the sea storm destroyed the original access road. Funding was assembled from multiple sources to meet the $1.46 million project costs.

Funding Source Funding Amount
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Public Assistance (PA) for 3 applicants and 14 Disaster Survey Reports $1,200,000
Individual Assistance (IA) for 6 applicants $16,000
Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Grant $600,000
Hazard Mitigation Section 409 Grant $50,000
Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
Housing assistance to match the federal assistance $200,000
Funding Total $1,460,000

 Shishmaref was Alaska’s first use of the Triodetic foundations in 1997. The foundation was used with skis to move homes to their new location onto the old airport runway. The Triodetic foundation remained mounted on the home for future relocation needs. Triodetic foundations have proven to be stable platforms for structural integrity when located on uneven soils and have since been used in Nome for uneven terrain, in Nunavut for multi-unit housing, in Kotzebue for National Park Service buildings, in Golovin for homes, and in Bethel for an administration building and dormitory.

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