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There has been a considerable amount of discussion between individuals and on social media concerning the recent winter storms and the varying levels of government response.

It has been mentioned several times, we are in the Unorganized Borough – Yes, it is a borough. We are here by choice and most of us have no local level of government. The two municipalities in our census district, Delta Junction and Eagle, have local governments that receive extensive federal funding because of payments by the federal government in lieu of taxes for government owned land in the census district – land not within their boundaries. The rest of us that support the community do so using alternative funding sources and receive little or no support by the recipients of these federal funds.

On Sunday, Dec. 26, I reached out to the State of Alaska Emergency Operations Center as the chief of the Rural Deltana Volunteer Fire Department on the impact of the closing of our only local grocery store due to damage caused by the storm and the problems being caused by the poor road conditions traveling to Fairbanks. As a courtesy I also let the Delta Junction city administrator know of this activity.

I also discussed the situation with both our state legislators.

The management of the IGA quickly moved to open in an adjoining space to provide basic necessities and continue to work toward adding additional space – thus reducing the immediate effect of the closing.

The Department of Transportation responded and assessed our needs to travel to Fairbanks against the demands of clearing roads in other areas. Ultimately, the issues were addressed and the road condition between Delta Junction and Eielson AFB improved tremendously – although probably not as fast as we might have liked. Road conditions were much better by the end of the week, and they are now listed as fair on the DOT 511 website for state roads around Delta Junction and between Delta Junction and Eielson while they are listed as difficult from Eielson to Fairbanks and around Fairbanks.

We all need to be prepared and have on hand food and supplies to survive for several weeks without needing to obtain more items. For those not in that position, there was an immediate need. Individuals and groups reached out to assist those with that need and many have benefit from those offers. I am aware of where community groups and individuals have brought people food and where people have been picked up and brought into town. I know of no one without food, water, heat, or other life sustaining needs.

As I had discussions last week with state emergency management officials and others in the community, it appeared that people were coping with the results of the storm by helping themselves and helping others, but we are unsure of the long-term needs of the community to survive the aftermath of the storm.

Now begins the process of considering the longer implications of the storm. Are the needs of those that are unable to travel to Fairbanks on their own being addressed? Are people able to get fuel delivered to their homes? Are emergency services able to sustain their services for the long-term in the conditions created by the storm and now bitterly cold temperatures.

Local groups continue to reach out and assist with transportation and it’s still not clear what the needs are and whether they are being met. Is what is taking place today sustainable as the snow and ice lays on the ground for the remainder of the winter season? That is one question to be addressed.

Fuel delivery is being reviewed. If your local road or driveway isn’t clear enough for a fuel truck, or if they can get there, they can’t get to your fuel tank, there is a problem. A long-term problem. I was even called today by my fuel delivery service because they can’t get to my fuel tank, and I must address that – the call wasn’t a surprise. And I have enough fuel that it isn’t an immediate problem, but it will become one before the cold season is over.

We are working to develop a sustainability plan to address these issues and the possibility of financial support from the state disaster relief fund is a benefit.

So, as some have asked, why wasn’t a disaster declaration not issued sooner? There wasn’t a need for one. Do you want government in your pocket 24 hours a day, seven days a week? We stood up as a community and addressed our immediate needs within our capacity. Now we need to look toward the next six months.

Michael Paschall is the editor and publisher of the Delta Wind, chief of the Rural Deltana Volunteer Fire Department, and chairs the Delta Greely Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Michael Paschall is the publisher of the Delta Wind and covers general news topics. He can be reached at news@deltawindonline.com.