SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

In the future...
By Dave Kiffer


November 05, 2012
Monday PM

Editor, SITNEWS;

I don't usually respond to letters about my opinion pieces because I feel that I have already had my say and that any responses to it are just part of the process and a "good thing" even if they call me a complete buckbrained eegit.

In the words of Lew Williams Jr, one my former editors ,"well, young man, at least that means they are reading you!"

But I was especially pleased at these responses.

For a minute I want to take off my "community snark in chief" hat and put on my citizen of Ketchikan hat. I think the real issue at play here is that the warnings were not effective, particularly at the local level.

One can argue to Lituya Bay (see "Surviving The Biggest Wave Ever" SITNEWS, July 8, 2008) and back about whether the regional tsunami warnings were too dire or not dire enough to encourage people to take action, but there is no question that locally - at least as far as Ketchikan is concerned - any warnings were either non-existence or un-noticed.

It did leave me pining for the good old days of 1964 when the emergency sirens on the telephone poles all went off and residents - for the most part - sought higher ground.

I understand that the city did post an alert on the KPU Facebook page, although I don't know what that alert was. As I noted in my column, I was on Facebook that evening and didn't see any alerts, other than the reposting of the regional alerts.

If the best we can do is post warnings on the internet, we are not serving our citizens in the slightest and we, as a community, did dodge a bullet when the "imminent" waves turned out to not be imminent.

There is clearly a median ground between the "dire" warnings of the region and the laissez faire approach locally. We need to sit down and decide what that answer is and have it in place and ready to go the next time something like this happens.

In the future, we have to have a plan in place that takes into account all the citizens of the community and not just those that may or may not be subscribing to a single organization's instant message system.

Dave Kiffer
Ketchikan, AK



Received November 03, 2012 - Published November 05, 2012


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