Education Important for Disaster Preparedness

Cordova’s Emergency Operations Plan is currently being revised, rewritten, and updated….and it is time to inform the community of some parts of that plan. Eventually, the entire plan will be online for public viewing as well as available in hard copy. Part of the overall plan is educating the public with regards to behavior in an emergency…so let’s begin with three basics.

Do you know, specifically, what to do or where to go in the event of a major earthquake? Each disaster will have its own individual challenges, and depending upon the scope and size of the event, your response may differ…but some responses will always be the same.

Basic #1. First of all, a very important reminder for everyone. Cordova is a coastal community and coastal communities must be particularly wary of earthquakes due to the possibility of resulting tsunamis. If you ever experience a major earthquake in Cordova (one that threatens to knock you down)…and you are near the shoreline….and it lasts for more than 15-20 seconds….QUICKLY move to higher ground. Quickly. Do not stand and watch the ocean. Move away. The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center rapidly determines whether an earthquake in coastal Alaska may generate a tsunami, and will issue a warning within 10 minutes, but that is not fast enough if there is a local tsunami. Cordova is establishing a good warning system, with our new tsunami siren, but if there is a major shake that fits the criteria above…do not wait for the siren. Go up. A good rule of thumb is to move 100’ above sea level or one mile inland.

Basic #2. If there is a major earthquake, with resulting evacuation of lower areas, the community gathering spot for displaced citizens will be Mt Eccles Elementary School. Mt Eccles will serve as a temporary shelter until other, more permanent shelters, are established… which takes some time. In the event that Mt Eccles is severely damaged, persons will be redirected elsewhere. Do not forget to bring your “To Go” kit with you to the shelter (see October 22nd newspaper for those kit items…or go to the city website @ and find the “Cordova Prepared” link. All these articles are there).

And lastly, Basic #3. If you are a first responder/volunteer to a major event, you must…repeat must…check in before you start to work on the disaster. The only way that your safety can be assured and that you can be tracked is to check in. If you do not check in, you become part of the problem, not the solution. First responders always check in at the Cordova Volunteer Fire Hall…unless there is a possibility of a tsunami. In that case, check in will be established in the basement of the Baptist Church (the old Homeport), at the corner of 2nd and Adams Streets.

So now…we all know the first three basics. Be prudent. Be ready. Be prepared.