In the days after the
Officials with the
In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, where there is no municipal inspection office, quake damage to homes and businesses is also tough to quantify. About 2,900 people in the borough applied for state disaster assistance, borough emergency managers say. Thirty-four applicants put themselves in the "destroyed" category. More than 380 reported major damage.
State officials said it's difficult to put a price tag on damages, but
Some needed infrastructure work has been completed -- such as a
But a permanent repair by the state and Mat-Su Borough isn't scheduled to start until next summer and won't be finished until 2021. As the photo shows,
Businesses have been hard hit as well. In
[Part 1: Last year's 7.1 earthquake woke
[Part 2: How a few seconds of shifting deep below the Earth's surface caused the biggest earthquake in
[Part 3: Experts say earthquake damage was worse outside
Some lost homes and dreams
One symbol of the quake remains as an ugly reminder that all is not well for some residential property owners trying to pick up the pieces. Since the earthquake destroyed a two-story home in
"We don't know what's going to happen," Harkless said last month from
According to the state of
None of that spending has gone to the Harkless family, which was ineligible for
An online crowdfunding effort generated a couple months' worth of hope, and savings have allowed them to keep making payments on the house they once dreamed of returning to. But without tenants, their savings have dwindled. They once dreamed of returning to live in the home full time. Now they don't have enough money to remove the pile of rubble from the end of the cul-de-sac.
"It's not that we can't make payments, it's that there's no house to make payments for," she said.
They've contacted a lawyer and are looking at the cheapest way to walk away from the rubble. After that, it's anybody's guess.
"We're just running out of time."
The Harkless family is among thousands who have found earthquake recovery to be a frustrating experience rife with disappointment, compromise and a healthy dose of reality.
Homeowners look to feds for help
Recently the family moved into military housing on nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (Steve's an
In addition to cracked walls throughout, the Baker house lost its brick siding, needs to be reattached to the foundation and must have its entryway redone. But even a
"Some of this comes out as we tear out walls and realize what else is there."
One neighbor had his house torn down while another has been going through nearly nonstop repairs since the day after the quake. All remain in various states of disrepair and with various hurdles between the owners and normalcy.
"We're all kind of in the same boat for the most part," he said.
Quake victims a target for scammers
"God provides," Castillo said from her cozy
Castillo said she got
But much of the grant money ended up in the pockets of guy who called himself "Shorty" and promised park residents he could fix their broken homes good and cheap and fast. Shorty wasn't good but he did pull a fast one, making off with Castillo's cash after jacking up her home a few inches but leaving a large gap open to the elements.
After Shorty came up short, Castillo had resigned herself to the fact the home she's lived in for 27 years would remain broken. But then her phone rang, and instead of asking for help someone was offering.
On the other end was a case worker from the
"A lot of people are still suffering," Budahl said.
The group sent volunteers to shore up Shorty's gap, properly re-level the home and make a plan to repair the rest of the damage this spring. It's not a lot, but it's a prayer answered for Castillo, who noted the volunteers completed the work with smiles and without swearing.
"They were amazing men," she said.
Faith-based groups and private charities have helped fill some of the gaps left for people who still need help. Budahl said his group has three lists of projects it tries to complete for folks -- those that can be taken care of immediately, those that might be able to be done this winter and those that will have to wait until next spring. The group relies on donations and does whatever it can, trying to focus on getting as much bang for its bucks.
One of the easiest ways to make a difference, he said, is simply listening. Some people are still afraid to return to creaky homes, he said; others have nightmares.
"For a lot of people it's just to know they didn't experience it by themselves," he said.
A new hope
For many, the upshot of the
"There was just people we didn't even know that said, 'Hey, let us help you out,'" Baker said.
Despite getting scammed, Castillo said she has no time to be bitter -- she's got soup to cook for the dozens of homeless people she volunteers to feed each weekend in downtown.
"It's what I do."
And the growing Harkless family (Daric and Michael had their second child five months after the quake) is still determined to return to
"Maybe this house wasn't meant to be,"
Their home may be gone and their future unclear, but Harkless said the quake hasn't broken her family. Far from it.
"We're just trying to make the best out of a bad situation."
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