When things started shaking in the early hours Sunday morning, were you ready? If not, will you be better prepared for the next one?
For many of us here on the central Kenai Peninsula, Sunday’s magnitude 7.1 quake crossed over the line from a little exciting to a little bit scary. And for several families, it turned downright terrifying when natural gas leaks caused by the shaking triggered explosions and fires, leading to a neighborhood evacuation and the loss of four homes.
Our hearts go out to those families that lost their pets and possessions, and we’re grateful for the organizations and individuals who have stepped up to offer assistance.
For the rest of us who had some minor damage or some broken glass to clean up, if it had been worse, would you have been prepared? If grocery stores had not been able to reopen, did you have food and water available? If power outages had been more widespread or had lasted longer, would you have been able to deal with it? If it had been a more typical January and the weather was colder, would you have been able to stay warm? And, if you needed to evacuate, would have known what to grab in your rush to get your loved ones out the door?
As we’ve said many times, in Alaska, it’s not a matter of if, but when a disaster will strike. Sunday’s earthquake was just the most recent example. We’ve had two summers in a row where wildfires have forced evacuations. Extreme weather, including flooding, and volcanic eruptions have impacted the peninsula on multiple occasions in the past 10 years.
A good place to start is with an emergency kit and an emergency plan. The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has good information online at https://www.ak-prepared.com, including tips to put together an “Alaska 7-Day Emergency Kit.” The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management webpage, http://www.kpb.us/emergency-mgmt, also has links to emergency preparedness information.
We’re relieved that Sunday’s earthquake wasn’t worse.
But let’s make sure we’re prepared for when it is.