Preparing for emergencies and helping communities after a natural disaster
Extension helps Alaskans prepare for floods, wind events, wildfires and other natural disasters through community workshops and publications on these topics.
Extension also helped Alaskans respond to the 7.0 earthquake that rocked Anchorage and Southcentral on Nov. 30. Staff in Anchorage and Mat-Su worked with local emergency officials, spoke with community members and monitored social media to determine what was needed and how Extension could best respond.
Immediate concerns included the need for a clean water supply and advice for homeowners on assessing hazards. Other identified needs were dealing with emotional trauma after the quake, choosing a reputable contractor for home repairs and testing for radon.
Extension developed a publication on safe emergency water supply and adapted materials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on assessing hazards, dealing with trauma and choosing contractors. These publications and others were made available to many sites in Anchorage and in the Mat- Su area, including grocery stories, libraries, and building supply stores. The need for radon testing was also publicized and additional resources were posted online.
Palmer agent Steve Brown said determining what information was needed was Extension’s biggest role. “People wanted unbiased, reliable information.”
Since Anchorage schools closed for a week, 4-H, volunteers and the Loussac Library teamed up to provide daily youth programs on a “Rock the Quake” theme. Youth built and launched rockets, and enjoyed programs on constructor robotics, art and literacy.
Extension posted a variety of resources on Facebook to help Southcentral residents following the earthquake. These posts were seen by more than 60,000 residents in the first two weeks and shared with many others. They included information from Extension, the Department of Environmental Conservation, FEMA and other entities.