City of Cordova Prepares for Worst of Times

Do you ever wonder what kind of training your City Employees and City Council have to guide you through a disaster? Do you wonder if they get any at all? The answer is, YES, many of them have trained diligently over the course of the past year…and continue to do so. In addition to the normal day- to- day crisis management, Cordova City employees and Council have dedicated a plethora of hours to DISASTER.

First of all, there is the monthly EMO meeting. What’s an EMO? That’s Cordova’s Emergency Management Organization, a group of dedicated men and women who meet to discuss/train for disasters. They regularly participate in tabletop exercises and group discussion, the sole focus of which is disasters. Almost every month, your City Manager, City Planner, City Public Works Director, City Finance Director, City Human Resources Director, Chief of Police and Paid Firefighter all attend these meetings. Additionally, there are representatives from most all the other key stakeholders and agencies in the community that attend.

Next, there is the COOP plan. Basically, COOP training is a way to continue City operations in the wake of a disaster…starting with evacuation of City Hall (if ever needed) right through setting up shop in another location to continue offering the essential services to the citizens of Cordova. It was over nine hours long !…and numerous City Department heads participated.

If that were not enough training, the Dispatch team will be training on aspects of disaster response, with small exercises in each of the critical areas that they are responsible for. Communications is the key factor in any successful response. It is also the one part of any disaster that quickly turns into its own disaster. Luckily, we have a group willing to train. They performed admirably during the statewide drill in April.

Additionally, Cordova’s City Manager, The City Planner, and the City Finance director traveled to Anchorage for a statewide seminar/tabletop on disaster RECOVERY. How does this state recover in the aftermath of a major event? The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) used our small community as a sounding board and as an example, while all the key agencies in the state discussed how Alaska would recover from a major event. Your City representatives made significant contacts and gave input from a rural perspective. It will help us significantly, if we ever need aid from those folks.

City Council was offered an evening of training last fall (again, from DHS&EM) to help them understand their role in a disaster, and to give them background on mutual aid agreements, disaster finances, and disaster recovery procedures. And your entire Finance department spent a full day with DHS&EM in order to prepare Cordova for all the financial challenges that a disaster would entail.

Does your City prepare? Do the employees train? In addition to all the other responsibilities they have, many have also given considerable time training to protect you. They are getting Ready. They are getting Prepared. And it isn’t easy to fit that in with everything else they are responsible for. We should thank them.