Preparing for disaster

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2010

What would happen if Salmon Creek Dam broke? What about if a large airplane crashed near the airport? Who would respond? What would you do?

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

September is National Preparedness Month and different businesses and agencies are putting heavy emphasis on public awareness on being prepared for disasters.

Juneau Emergency Programs Manager Tom Mattice outlined some efforts to draw attention to disaster preparation. Earlier this week, a disaster shelter was set up as an example of what could be done in a number of situations where people would be dislocated.

Alaska Electric Light & Power had a discussion with Mattice and others who would be involved this week to review the scenario if Salmon Creek Dam broke. As AEL&P operates the dam, they're responsible for creating and working with the city for an emergency response plan. It's not only for the worst-case scenario, but also if there's a leak or other concern with it. Mattice said AEL&P is required to test that plan every five years.

AEL&P will do a functional exercise Sept. 30 alongside the hospital, National Guard and the Coast Guard.

"It would give us an idea of what would happen in a real-world event," he said.

A break in the dam would cause a slow rise in water in Salmon Creek, which would flood the area below the hospital.

Scott Willis, generation engineer with AEL&P, said their test coincides with the preparedness month. Willis said during the live drill, the Weather Service will be involved and conduct its own drill in conjunction with AEL&P's.

Another thing to listen for in the upcoming drill is the flood warning sirens that will sound. Public awareness measures will be taken so people know that they "don't have to run for their lives, that it will be part of the exercise," Willis said.

Other entities participating this month in activities include Bartlett Regional Hospital, the Red Cross, Juneau police and fire departments, city emergency programs, the Department of Natural Resources, the State Emergency Response Commission and several local businesses.

Mattice recommends as a good resource for preparing your home or business for disaster. He said the state recommends people be prepared for three to seven days of having to care for themselves without utilities or the ability to leave home.

Mattice encourages people to attend Emergency Planning Committee meetings held the second Wednesday of each month to be better aware and involved in the different scenarios that can happen in the Juneau area.

Mike Lopez, chief of security at Bartlett Hospital, said they have information available at a table regarding different things people can do to be prepared for an emergency. There is also a kit people can place medication and medical information in that hangs on a refrigerator for emergency responders.

Aside from distributing information, the hospital is working with different organizations in their drills, one of which will be an airport disaster exercise at Juneau International Airport this month. Lopez said they have it every couple of years and it involves a crash scenario with a mock aircraft.

"They have passengers and victims on the ground," he said.

All of these drills help plan the best method to handle crisis situations.

"We've got to make sure we're all doing (our part)," Mattice said.

Contact Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved.  | Contact Us