RurAL CAP has set up its equipment in Bethel to weatherize homes. Prior to this year they were in Quinhagak, where about half the homes in town were improved.
For the past five years, RurAL CAP project manager Shelby Clem has been weatherizing homes in Quinhagak. This year, he went into one of the homes and the need for weatherization was obvious.
“Lot of leaks, gaps everywhere,” Clem said. “You couldn’t help but notice there was zero insulation in this attic.”
That home belonged to Barbara Wassillie. She said that in past winters, she would use 50 gallons of fuel a week. On top of that, she would supplement her Toyo stove with a wood stove. Last year, she started burning wood in September.
“Now we still haven’t put it on,” Wassillie said. “We were living in a drafty house, but no more draft there since they did sealing the house.”
Clem is certain that this winter, Wassillie and her family won’t be blowing through 50 gallons of fuel a week.
“She might have to refill the barrel once this year,” Clem said.
RurAL CAP also added a fan that turns on by itself to regulate humidity in her house. And they added a safety feature that’s Wassillie’s favorite.
“We were so happy they made a balcony to go out the door, and little stairs. It's so cute, and again I thank RurAL CAP,” Wassillie said, laughing.
RurAL CAP’s Weatherization Assessor, Dennis Waldron, says that they worked on around 70 homes total in Quinhagak, about half the homes in the community. He said that everyone who was eligible and applied got the services.
The organization’s grant manager, Marla Tombleson, says that RurAL CAP prioritizes areas with lower average income. That, along with how recently weatherization services have been offered in a community, are the criteria. She says that next on the list for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are the villages of Chefornak and Kongiganak, but she’s not sure when that will happen.
“This is probably gonna be taking a lot longer nowadays, because right now we have been cut from the budget of the governor,” Tombleson said.
She said that back in the day, RurAL CAP would weatherize 250 homes a year. Now they’re down to 30. They expect to work on 10 to 15 homes in Bethel this year, and homeowners can apply for weatherization services online.