Kodiak residents need to be ready for future disasters

Chief Mullican goes over Kodiak’s recent tsunami evacuation. (Photo by Mitch Borden/KMXT)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Local Emergency Planning Committee held its quarterly meeting yesterday. The main topic of discussion was last month’s 7.9 magnitude earthquake that shook the Gulf of Alaska.

“It was registered as the tenth largest earthquake in Alaskan recorded history. So, it was a pretty significant earthquake.”

The City of Kodiak’s fire chief Jim Mullican chaired the meeting. He went over how city residents reacted to the tsunami warning the quake triggered. Overall, he said the community did great, especially since Kodiak hasn’t had to evacuate like this for almost 30 years.

Things didn’t go perfectly though. Instead of heading straight for shelters like Kodiak High School or North Star Elementary, some people made unneeded pit stops.

“The sirens are going off and we had people lining up at gas stations in the inundation zone to get gas.”

More community outreach is needed to educate residents about what they should do and where they should go during events like the warning says, Mullican. It’s wasn’t just those who gassed up that were in danger. Mullican says everyone who rushed to Pillar Mountain instead of a shelter or other safe zones also put themselves in a precarious situation.

“There’s no help up there. You get up there, especially up in the ice and snow. That road was too blocked. If somebody had trouble up there in the parking lot we can’t get to them. We’d rather have people go to the open shelters that way they have a place to stay. They can be warm, they have bathrooms, so forth and so on. And if somebody has problems we are immediately able to help them there.”

Another thing Mullican says people need to know is what kind supplies they’ll need if a disaster hits Kodiak, and stock up.

“There’s not enough emergency services here. There’s not enough of anything here to be able to cover everybody on the road system or on the island and the archipelago. So, our citizen themselves need to ensure they have food, water, stuff at their residence so they can take care of themselves for up to seven days.”

The committee voted to use $6,000 of grant money to fund a media campaign to educate Kodiak residents about natural disaster preparedness. Also, both the city and the Kodiak Island Borough have emergency preparedness resources on their websites such as tsunami inundation maps for communities across the archipelago.

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