(JUNEAU, Alaska) – After last night’s 7.9 earthquake, tsunami alerts, and subsequent evacuations in coastal Alaska, the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) is taking the opportunity to outline the department’s emergency response activities.
“ADOT&PF serves every community in Alaska. We have staff and equipment throughout the state who respond to emergencies to assist with safety and movement of people, goods, and services,” said ADOT&PF Commissioner Marc Luiken.
“It’s an important reminder that we all need to assess our own emergency preparedness. I’m proud of our employees and the community emergency responders who mobilized in a hurry to ensure people were safe,” he continued.
During the tsunami alert, in multiple communities, ADOT&PF crews moved firefighting and other equipment to high ground so it would be available for clearing debris or rebuilding if needed. In Kodiak, ADOT&PF opened the airport to let Coast Guard air fleets take off and then closed the airport. After the tsunami alert was cancelled, ADOT&PF crews moved equipment back to stations, reopened the Kodiak airport for Coast Guard landings, and inspected roads for damage.
ADOT&PF crews will be out inspecting potentially impacted bridges over the next few days.
“I want to give a special shout out to the ADOT&PF crew in Cold Bay, especially Paul Schaack, for plowing snow to open the community’s evacuation route to safety,” said Commissioner Luiken.
When an extreme weather or other threatening emergency is announced, local ADOT&PF employees:
- Secure the physical safety of themselves and their family.
- Move critical safety and heavy equipment to safe ground. This is because firefighting equipment could be needed during an emergency, and construction equipment could be necessary to clean up debris and rebuild after an event.
- Open or close airports and ferry terminals, depending on time of day and need. This includes facilitating Coast Guard or military lift off or landing for emergency support.
- Notify Alaska Marine Highway System vessels and secure safe passage.
- Communicate with the public about safe transportation routes.
During an emergency, ADOT&PF employees:
- Continue to serve as first responders and assist in meeting community safety, infrastructure, and communications needs.
After an acute emergency is over, ADOT&PF works to secure Alaska’s infrastructure system, including:
- Assessing the safety of roads, airports, and bridges.
- Opening or closing transportation routes, depending on the need.
- Continuing to communicate with the public about safe transportation.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 242 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway and 731 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”