A disaster drill, held by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, re-enacted a scenario that isn’t too unrealistic: prolonged subzero temperatures combined with fuel shortages from the Mat-Su Borough to the Kenai Peninsula.
In the drill, Enstar issues a Code Red Energy Emergency notification due to a severe shortage of natural gas and continuation of severe winter weather conditions plunging thermometers to minus 20 and lower. There’s no immediate threat to the Kenai Peninsula gas supply, however, potential rolling black outs in the Anchorage area was the essential drill problem. In the drill, we were told the Kenai Peninsula will not experience rolling black outs.
Still, under the guidelines established for a Code Red Energy Emergency, citizens of the Kenai Peninsula Borough using natural gas were requested to immediately make adjustments.
As you can already see, the drill has limited application for Homer as Homer doesn’t have natural gas. But, this doesn’t mean the town would be completely spared problems since Homer Electric Association is tied into the Southcentral energy grid. We, too, would need to make adjustments by turning down thermostats and limit utility uses.
The advice to consolidate into main rooms, and conserve heat would still be useful.
Exercise drills can be fashioned in any number of ways to act out a certain “what if?” This one happened to involve a scenario that would impact a great part of Southcentral Alaska through a limited resource. Officials have talked about the possibility of running low on natural gas if new wells aren’t brought on line. This was a chance to carry that fear to a natural conclusion for a look-see at what it might take to prevent such a disaster.
On the human side of the drill, a shelter filled up with 39 people needing help after losing electricity in their homes. An organized body of officials and citizen volunteers came together to feed and comfort them. In the end, they needed to ask themselves if they were able to gather enough blankets, pillows, food and warm clothing. Did they have enough volunteers who knew what to do? What variables sprang up that couldn’t have been predicted?
These are the questions that concern us all. How well prepared are we to handle our most vulnerable populations? During disasters, as the Japanese found in the wake of their devastating 2011 earthquake, that tends to be most of us. We’re all vulnerable.
The good work of a drill, however, lets us notice this and commit to memory how we solve our crisis together.
Notice also went out to numerous emails this weekend from the borough asking residents to register for the Rapid Notify emergency phone call system. This will send an automatic message to you in case of an any disaster and give directions on what to do.
It takes three minutes to complete. Contact the KPB Office of Emergency Management at https://alert.rapidnotify.com/list_login
Volunteer to sign up friends and relatives who may not have access to signing up online. It’s important to take this step that brings us all into the same communication ring.
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