At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz officially declared a civil emergency as a result of the budget vetoes of Governor Mike Dunleavy.

The civil emergency gives the municipality additional access to city resources to confront the crises expected to befall the city and state once the cuts take hold.

The final straw that Berkowitz said led him to announce the emergency was news from the Brother Francis Shelter, that it would be closing temporarily starting Aug. 1, which will force at least 240 homeless people out onto the street.

“This is an unprecedented decision for an unprecedented situation,” said Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. “Existing shelters have lost funding at a time when demand for their services is projected to skyrocket. First responders and health care professionals are anticipating a massive surge in 911 and emergency room calls, and it is imperative that we meet this impending humanitarian crisis with the resources that we deploy when responding to all emergencies.”

The emergency is in effect for 48 hours and on Friday, the Anchorage Assembly will meet at City Hall to discuss options and the possibility of extending the emergency declaration.

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