Emergency Assistance Provided to Alaska community buried in snow
January 09, 2012
The danger posed by avalanche hazards and potential roof collapses to life and critical infrastructure has resulted in a coordinated effort by multiple state agencies to provide assistance, particularly before the upcoming snowstorms in the Prince William Sound area.
Requests for heavy equipment and operators are being coordinated with private companies to supply four front-end loaders, one dump truck, one grader, and one snowmelter, with operators sufficient to run 24-hours, are en route to assist the city.
Cordova continues its own efforts to remove obstructive snow and establish proactive measures for future potential issues. Local road crews have reopened one lane of the Copper River Highway to allow limited access to the airport during daylight hours only. The Bidarki Recreation Center has been designated as a shelter and is open as needed to residents who chose to relocate due to avalanche or roof-collapsing dangers.
The Alaska National Guard also planned to respond Sundayy to personnel and equipment requests for support in Cordova after weeks of record snowfall have left the city covered in more than 18 feet of snow.
Personnel in the Alaska National Guard’s Joint Operation Center responded to a resource request from the State Emergency Operation Center to send more than 50 Guard members, supplies and equipment to Cordova Sunday, weather permitting, to provide much needed support.
“We have called upon the Alaska National Guard to help the community with emergency snow removal that will protect public buildings and residences,” said John Madden, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “Their ability to rapidly deploy large numbers of Guardsmen anywhere in state is a great resource.”
Isolated off the state highway system and having the sea and airport as the only means of transportation in or out of the small Alaskan community, Cordova residents have worked hard to clear snow, including 42 inches in the most recent storm, but conditions continue to worsen, posing a serious safety issue to the citizens.
“Cordova is continuing their outstanding job responding to several weeks of intense snowfall,” Madden said. “Cordova utilized all of their snow management resources to maintain emergency access, but now face a new round of storms that will bring heavy snow and perhaps rain.”
With more snow and rain expected, avalanche danger remains very high in Cordova and some buildings have collapsed due to heavy snow loads.
“Alaska has significant challenges and the National Guard has the manpower skill and equipment to meet those demands and quickly respond in support of civilian authorities when called upon,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. “Our Soldiers and Airmen will move forward and support the people of Cordova during their time of need. This is a great example of how the National Guard is always ready, always there.”
The National Weather Service forecasts another storm approaching will bring snow to the area Tuesday morning, turning to rain Tuesday afternoon.
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