Climate Change and Disaster Relief
For the first time in the nation’s history, a village wants the federal government to declare the impending impacts the village will face due to climate change an official disaster. Rachel Waldholz, Alaska Village, Citing Climate Change, Seeks Disaster Relief in Order to Relocate, www.npr.org, (Jan. 10, 2017). Because of rising temperatures, the permafrost under the village of Newtok, Alaska is thawing. Id. This thawing is causing 70 feet of land every year to erode into the Ninglick River. Id.
The village wants the government to declare the site a disaster in order to be eligible for relief funding needed to relocate the entire community. Id. Romy Cadiente, the relocation coordinator, states, “We just need to get out of there, for the safety of the 450 people.” Id. Cadiente explains that the problem is enormous price it would take to move the village. Id. The Army Corps of Engineers estimate that the relocation process will cost between $80 million to $130 million. Id.
However, the Native Alaskans living in Newtok cannot wait for the federal government to provide funding. Id. A new village location has been chosen nine miles away, and many houses have already been built due to the instability and unsafe conditions of the current location. Id.