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The Alaska Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Earthquake and Tsunami Program is continuously researching, learning, and developing new ways to improve the safety of Alaska’s residents and visitors before disaster strikes. Through planning and building codes, transportation, communications, and education, our staff works with our partners to prepare Alaska to decrease the loss of life, the environment, and property. If you live in an area that can be impacted by an earthquake, preparation is vital, as these events can strike suddenly, at any time, and anywhere.
Understanding Earthquake Magnitude, Power and Energy Release – “Perspective”:
Alaska and California are generally the most seismically active regions in North America*. Do you know your risk for earthquake? All Alaskans live with earthquake hazards. The Alaska Earthquake Center detects an earthquake every fifteen minutes, on average. In 2014, they reported an all-time high of over 40,000 earthquakes in Alaska.
Knowing if you live, work, shop, vacation or drop your children off in an area that could be impacted by an earthquake fault is the first step you can take to reducing your risk of injury and decreasing property damage from an earthquake.
Once you determine your risk, you can begin to prepare your family, employees, students and others to lessen the impacts of an earthquake.
*In 2014, Oklahoma saw a 500% increase in seismic activity (quakes of magnitude 3 or greater), thereby surpassing California for the first time in recorded history.
Preparedness refers to activities we do prior to an earthquake to be ready to respond to and recover from significant ground shaking. When it comes to earthquakes, there are simple things you can do to improve your chances of survival and recovery. Anything you do today will be like making a deposit in your survivability savings account for withdrawal in tough times.
At a minimum, you should be prepared to be isolated and on your own for at least seven days and nights. There will likely be the loss of utilities after a disaster. It is possible the power will be out, water may be scarce, gas lines may break, phones and cell towers could become inoperable, roads might be impassible, etc. Your only source of news may well be the car radio, assuming your local radio station has a working generator. There might not be medical assistance for days.
To begin preparing your home and family:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, in 2013 the average work day for full time employed Americans (age 25-54 with children) was 8.7 hours. An earthquake could occur anytime in that 8.7 hours. Are you prepared? Preparing your workplace is just as important as preparing your home. There are many ways to improve your safety in the event of an earthquake. Here are just a few suggestions:
While earthquakes have occurred throughout history, our knowledge and understanding of preparing for them is much more recent. Through planning and education, we are now in a position to ensure the current and upcoming generations make earthquake preparedness a regular part of their routine. As actions from learning to drop, cover and hold on, to securing furniture in their homes becomes the norm, students can take this information and teach their families and friends how to be prepared.
As we learn more, our partners are applying that knowledge to assist teachers, parents and schools in the education of students of all ages and abilities by providing lesson plans, curriculum, activities, games, materials, publications and a multitude of other resources.
The Earthquake and Tsunami Program is responsible for supporting all Alaska governmental agencies and tribes to ensure the protection and safety of the populace in the event of an earthquake. To this end, the Program staff is available to provide guidance and assistance to our partners in the preparation of plans to mitigate and plan for, respond to and recover from earthquakes impacting our State. In addition, many resources and guidance materials are available for review to walk developers through the planning process.
During the preparedness phase of emergency management, and as part of a comprehensive preparedness program, the emergency management community should develop plans and procedures to be implemented during an earthquake. Plans will need to be flexible and all-encompassing enough to recognize not only earthquakes, but all potential risks and exposures for the community, business, government agency, school, or hospital. Planning activities will vary by jurisdiction but should include the following: Communication, Shelters, Evacuation Plans, Resources and Inventory, Emergency Workers, Volunteers, Training, Access and Functional Needs population, Non-Government Organizations, Multi-Agency Coordination.
Since earthquakes often strike without warning, it is important to be prepared. Developing an earthquake preparedness plan is one of the most strategic decisions you can make if you are responsible for a business or organization. A workplace should follow accepted earthquake safety guidelines, but have in place a personalized, well-rehearsed plan to help safeguard your organization during an earthquake. Developing, and putting into place, a Disaster Plan will not only protect employees, but will help minimize the financial impact of an earthquake, and help you recover more quickly. To prepare for an earthquake, all businesses should:
Many organizations play a role in assisting business owners with their disaster planning.
If you have questions about mitigation, e-mail Alaska's Hazard Mitigation Officer, Brent Nichols.
Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management
Mr. Michael "Mike" Sutton was appointed as acting director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) within the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on December 11, 2017. He was appointed Deputy Director on June 5, 2015.
Mr. Sutton started his career with the State of Alaska in November of 2005. Mike was the Exercise Program manager in the DHS&EM Preparedness Branch where he planned, coordinated, executed and evaluated the largest homeland security exercise in Alaska's history - Alaska Shield 07.
Following a highly successful exercise and after more than 28 years of public service, Mr. Sutton ventured into the private sector and started his own business. As president of Alaska's leading veteran-owned emergency management consulting firm, he won contracts for developing an Emergency Operations Plan for the National Science Foundation's Antarctic outpost at McMurdo Station, writing the Alaska Catastrophic Response Plan for FEMA Region X, creating the first Regional Tribal Response Plan for FEMA, and updating emergency operations plans for dozens of Alaska's borough's and communities.
Mr. Sutton retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2005 after 25 years of service with over 2,400 hours in the F-4E and RC-135 aircraft.
Mr. Sutton holds a Bachelors of Business Administration Degree from Texas A&M University graduating in 1978, and completed post-graduate work in Leadership, Management, and Cultural Diversity. Mr. Sutton is a Distinguished Graduate of Squadron Officer's School, completed Air Command and Staff College, and is a graduate of Armed Forces Staff College.
Mike is an avid outdoorsman and can be found on most weekends with his wife Alisha on one of Alaska's many hiking trails or on their boat out in Prince William Sound. They have 3 grown children and live in Anchorage, Alaska.
(Current as of April 2015)
Army Guard Road,
JBER, AK 99505