Bethel offering non-congregate shelter to stuck village travelers

photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

In the July 28th, 2020 report to the City of Bethel council, City Manager Vinny Corazza gave details about the non-congregate shelter that is currently in operation with passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Budget and Spending Plan.

Bethel’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is administering the Lodging for Transit Personnel.

“This is to house villagers who are stuck in Bethel overnight awaiting their continuing flight to the villages,” wrote City Manager Corazza in his report. “The EOC does not want travelers coming from Anchorage to comingle with the Citizens of Bethel. By controlling their transportation from the airport to a hotel and back, the EOC can to an extent, separate the two population groups.”

As of July 20th, 8 guests have been housed with this program. The travelers were from Newtok, Emmonak and Mekoryuk.

The EOC estimates about 10% of the passengers from the Anchorage to Bethel flight are layovers needing non-congregate shelter, Corazza said. Currently, the hotels are the only places available to meet this need.

According to the report, the EOC would like to have a city facility set up with individual rooms. “An opportunity has arisen that a construction company might be willing to sell their “mancamp” or a complex of modular buildings that when assembled, becomes a camp with bedrooms, kitchen, and common area. A very common set up in the oil fields,” said Corazza. “If a deal is going to be put together, City Management will approach Council for the go ahead to purchase this facility to be used as a non-congregate shelter.”