How helpful have Covid relief programs been so far to people in Alaska’s Southwest region? A short survey aims to find out.

 “We really wanted to focus on individual’s experiences, we’re not sending out to local governments, tribal governments, large organizations, things like that. We want to hear what the impacts or results of the Coronavirus was to you personally and to your family.”

Shirley Marquardt is director of SWAMC, the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference that represents over 45 communities from Kodiak to Bristol Bay, the Alaska Peninsula out to the Pribilof Islands and everywhere in between. 

“So, things like how helpful or accessible were federal, state, local, tribal grants or loan programs, because each community in our region has a different experience. And it’s really vitally important that we get a handle on what those were.”

One goal is to create a sort of roadmap to better understand the unique characteristics of an economic disaster in each community and region.

“The second would be how SWAMC can better understand the grants or loan programs, or utility payments for municipalities that were most helpful, because a lot of money went out there, they weren’t accessible to a lot of folks in our region, because we have such limited broadband. And you could only apply online. We want to get a better handle and understanding of how that impacted folks and how to better understand the eligibility requirements and the application process.”

Marquardt says spotty or no broadband service kept many people from accessing any benefits.

“We had people who were out fishing and they couldn’t apply and they were clearly eligible and truly needed the money. And they were so frustrated because they had to wait. And some of the folks waited and then they were told it’s too late.”

The survey, done in partnership with McKinley Research Group, will examine lessons learned and identify strategies to help Southwest communities better withstand and recover from future economic shocks.

“Anyone who lives and works and thrives in those communities, has kids in school, works, has health care concerns, etc. We need to hear from you.”

Find the survey at www.swamc.org  It could win you a $50 Visa gift card.

 

 

 

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