News>‘Prep-tember’ fair emphasizes being ready for Alaska
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the JBER community met with information providers about disaster and emergency preparedness Sept. 15 at the Exchange. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly Lasaine)
9/20/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Overnight between Sept. 4 and 5, a storm hit JBER with winds gusting more than 70 miles per hour. The storm caused damage in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It uprooted trees and blew down street signs.
Another, bigger storm was predicted to hit the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16; this time flooding was also predicted in areas.
This is Alaska. Some natural disasters are expected. However, this is the military; many assigned to the installation today might not be prepared.
Many who have lived in the state for a while may still need to take precautions.
Although it had been planned prior to the storms, the JBER Installation Office of Emergency Management hosted the joint base's first Disaster Preparedness Fair in the parking lot of the Base Exchange and Commissary.
"We had about 100 to 200 people," said Elizabeth Ross, 773d Civil Engineer Squadron. "It went well; we had a lot of people asking questions. A lot of people are preparing for the storm."
Numerous units showed their support for the fair.
"We have the fire department here, security forces, medical group, FSS came out, the Red Cross, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and the blood bank," she said. "We also study earthquakes, volcanos; we have responses to active shooters, CPR, first aid -
just about anything that could happen.
"This is about getting people to prepare for emergencies, especially with last week's storm and the upcoming storm. The storm is supposed to come in [Saturday] and I heard it's supposed to be as bad as the last one."
It's a good time to be proactive, she said. In fact, anyone attempting to purchase supplies at the last moment may find it a challenge.
"We're encouraging people to get disaster supply kits, figure out what to do if they don't have power, especially when winter comes," she said. "They said the (Exchange) and Commissary are already sold out of lanterns and flashlights and batteries and a lot of other emergency supplies."
Ross offered expertise freely.
"I'd recommend people prepare food and water," she said. "If the power goes out, you're going to want to have light sources, candles; you can get an indoor heater for when it gets colder out. You might be without heat and stuff for a few days."
Of all the questions asked during the fair, Ross noted a couple which were asked most.
"The most commonly asked questions were things like what to put in a disaster supply kit," she said. "I recommend food, water, and cash which is one people don't think of. When the power is out, then ATMs, credit card machines, none of that is going to work.
"In a major disaster, stores should be open to sell food and water, people need it. So unless you have cash to buy it, you're probably not going to get it.
"They asked about earthquakes, how often they occur, what people can do, that sort of thing," Ross said. "One thing people can do is set up their bedroom at night make sure there's nothing that can fall on them or their kids.
"Keep something like coats or a hard hat by your bed so that if you have to leave your house in a hurry, like for a major earthquake or something, you'll have something to grab right away. You may not have a chance to get to your big kit.
"A lot of the volcanos are active but there's nothing in the red zone right now; if we have a major earthquake or something that could change."
Ross explained although the fair had not been planned specifically because of the storms, it was JBER's first disaster preparedness fair and she hopes there will be more to come.
"This fair has been planned out for about six weeks, but the storm had timing," she said. "This is the first time we've done it; we're going to try to make it an annual thing. I think it was very successful, a lot of the organizations liked it, and so we're going to try to do it again."
For more information, contact Ross at 551-0256.
For volcano information, visit www.avo.alaska.edu/ and for earthquake information, visit earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/