News / archive

    Alaska Quake Renews Focus on State's Emergency Readiness

    Associated Press

    A magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Alaska's most populous region has renewed focus on the state's readiness to deal with a natural disaster.
     
    And it's not just earthquakes that pose a danger across the vast state but also wildfires, floods, landslides and even volcanoes.

    Robert Forgit, Alaska area manager for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he thinks Alaskans are resilient and perhaps more used to quakes and flooding.
     
    The state also does a good job of working with communities on emergency plans, he said.
     
    Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said it's hard to say how prepared residents are.
     
    Many people hunt and fish and have a freezer full of meat, and there are people who live near the road system but are remote enough that they tend to stock up more on food, he said.
     
    The state recommends having at least seven days of supplies on hand and a family plan in case of emergencies.
     
    In the case of major damage to the Port of Anchorage, through which an estimated 90 percent of commodities for most Alaskans enter the state, there would be a cascading effect, Zidek said.
     
    It would take time to set up alternate routes, such as use of other ports, having things flown in or trucking supplies from the Alaska Highway, which runs from Canada.
     
    In 2012, then-Gov. Sean Parnell's administration proposed stockpiling food around the state's two largest cities, which also have military bases, in case the state's 735,000 residents were cut off from supply lines.
     
    But when Gov. Bill Walker took office and asked departments to tighten belts as the state dealt with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, the stockpiling idea was tossed, Zidek said. The state has other food resources it can tap, including local food banks and partnerships with federal agencies and non-governmental agencies, like the Red Cross, he said.
     
    “I think Alaskans are more prepared to deal with natural disasters than other communities, say in the Lower 48 (states), because we're a resilient people anyway. This is the Last Frontier,” said Forgit.
     
    Alaskans, living along an active seismic zone, also are a bit more used to earth-shaking and flooding along rivers like the Yukon and Kuskokwim, he said.
     
    In places like the Kenai Peninsula, where four houses were destroyed following the early Sunday morning earthquake, authorities put as much time as they can into stressing readiness, said Scott Walden, emergency management director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
     
    A group of about 150 residents in the region are trained as part of a Citizens Corps to help provide basic fire or first aid response as a stopgap if emergency services are not able to respond immediately. Members of the corps opened the shelter after the quake until the Red Cross arrived, he said.
     
    It's neighbors helping neighbors, Walden said. “Not to take the place of emergency responders but to be able to provide some semblance of organization and comfort until the responders can get there,” he said.

    In 2013, an ice jam along the Yukon River flooded the small community of Galena in Alaska's Interior. Steve Erickson said he's lived in Galena for 25 years and thought he knew what flooding was. But he had never experienced something like that before – “fast and furious.”
     
    He and his wife have rebuilt their home on high pilings. They're also are more vigilant around break-up in the spring. Preparations include making sure there's enough bottled water and food in the house for a week or so, he said.
     
    “You can just have a bunch of canned food and you're good to go,” he said.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora