SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Significant Snow Accumulation Brings Challenges
Citizens asked for assistance during dig-out


December 29, 2008

Ketchikan, Alaska - Yesterday's snow brought difficult travel issues to say the least. Getting around town was hazardous for the average commuter but made extremely difficult and dangerous for emergency equipment and responders said Jim Hill, Chief of the Ketchikan Fire Department.

Hill said, "The Ketchikan Fire Department had eight emergency calls for assistance during the day Sunday. Four calls were non-medical related calls, including one call for 'people trapped on an elevator' which was quickly remedied when power was restored. There were four calls for medical assistance with off-duty personnel with four-wheel drive vehicles and snowplows helping ensure a rapid response."

jpg Significant Snow Accumulations

24 Inches
Measured at 1:00 pm Sunday, December 28, 2008, 12 miles North Tongass
Photo and measurementsby Mike Houts

Over the next few days Chief Hill said the Ketchikan Fire Department asks local citizens to "help us help you" during this period of cold weather and significant snow accumulations. City of Ketchikan street crews are busy clearing stockpiles of snow and plowing your streets. Remember Hill said, if you just shovel your snow into the street, it will just get plowed into your neighbor's driveway and can make driving hazardous in front of your house.

The City of Ketchikan Department of Public Works will be clearing snow in the downtown area Monday. They will be working throughout the next several evenings. The areas they will be concentrating on for the next couple days will be: Main Street, Mission Street, Dock Street, Grant Street, Mill Street and Bawden Street.

Here are a few things you and your neighbors can do to help all of us get through this period of nasty weather said Hill:

1. Please park your vehicles so snow removal equipment, police vehicles, fire apparatus, and ambulances can get through.
2. If there is a fire hydrant near your property, please dig it out so the fire department can see it and use it if necessary.
3. Shovel and access point to your residence so fire and EMS personnel have access you.
4. Make sure we can see the house numbers on your residence or mailbox.

jpg Digging-out -- South Tongass Highway Photograph by Lisa Thompson

Digging-out -- South Tongass Highway
Photograph by Lisa Thompson

Here are some other important safety tips provided by the Ketchikan Fire Department:

1. Fuel fired equipment like boilers and furnaces can create carbon monoxide. Make sure equipment like this is properly maintained.
2. Make sure any space heaters have plenty of clearance, cords are maintained, and extension cords are not overheating.
3. Never leave candles unattended.
4. Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. They can't protect you if they are in the wrong spot or have the batteries removed.
5. Check your heat-tapes on water pipes. If they are worn out, replace them. They must be installed properly or they can cause a fire.
6. The Emergency Telephone Number is 9-1-1 anywhere on the island. Make sure the call gets made and make sure authorities have all the information they need to provide you with the best possible service.
7. Make sure you have an escape plan with your family if you do have a fire! You and your family are our priority.

jpg Digging-out -- Ketchikan Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

Digging-out -- Ketchikan
Photograph by Chris Wilhelm

It is importmat to remember that snow loads can collapse roofs, decks, carports, and balconies. If you can safely remove the snow, now is the time to do it, before the rains come and additional weight is added. Few roof failures occur without warning signs. Warning signs of structural roof problems include roof leaks, "strange popping sounds", cracks in walls and ceilings, and excessive sagging of structural roof elements or ceilings.

During the bad weather, give your neighbor a hand too. If you have neighbors or family members that are elderly, have special needs, or need assistance, give them a hand, check on them often and make sure they are safe too.


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National Weather Service - Alaska Region

Source of News:

Ketchikan Fire Department


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Ketchikan, Alaska