One of the most eroded Native Alaskan villages on the state’s coast is being considered as a possible national model for moving entire communities whose futures are threatened by natural disasters escalated by climate change.
The state is hoping to kick-start an exodus from the village of Newtok, about 500 miles west of Anchorage, through a national competition for states and local governments vying for a slice of nearly $1 billion in grants to be awarded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency’s National Disaster Resilience Competition is being promoted as an effort to address climate change and extreme weather.
If successful, Alaska officials are proposing that $62.6 million of the money be used for relocation costs, including money for infrastructure and to allow 62 families from Newtok to establish new homes at a site on higher ground nine miles away. In the draft proposal publicly released Friday, state officials are also seeking a total of $162.4 million for three other vulnerable villages – Emmonak, Galena and Teller – that storms have extensively damaged in recent years.
“We’re trying to really focus on how to get this village out of there,” Ms. Cadiente said in an interview Wednesday. “That shore is not going to grow back.”