By: Sophie Minich, CIRI President and CEO
Next month marks an important anniversary in Alaska’s history. Fifty years ago, at 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, men, women and children starting their dinners or otherwise going about their business felt the earth begin to shift beneath their feet. The movement didn’t stop for three minutes. Then came the tsunami, triggered by the earthquake, that ravaged many villages along the Gulf of Alaska. From Anchorage to Seward, Chenega to Afognak, Kodiak to Whittier, communities were forever changed. The Good Friday earthquake was the largest in U.S. and North American history, and took more than 100 lives.
Many of you have memories of that day and have told the story of where you were when the earthquake hit to your children or grandchildren. On anniversaries like this one, it’s important to remember our past, take stock of our present and prepare for the future.
Just recently in Alaska, a massive avalanche on the Richardson Highway cut off road access to the town of Valdez – the home of 10 CIRI shareholders – for 12 days. Our Alaska shareholders in particular know how quickly disaster can strike. Earthquakes, snowstorms, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are simply a part of living in such a unique and beautiful place. But disasters can strike anywhere. Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey. Wildfires in California. The recent polar vortex in the Midwest. The key to weathering any disaster is preparation.
At CIRI, even in the event of a disaster, we want to ensure that we can continue our business operations and minimize any disruption of the services and support we normally provide to our shareholders. We created a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to help us do just that.
The BCP outlines exactly what CIRI departments and employees need to do to make sure the company’s essential operations continue to function in the face of a catastrophic event or disruption of services at the CIRI building. Once the immediate health, life and safety issues of our employees are taken care of, our priority is getting back to fulfilling the mission of CIRI: to promote the economic and social well-being of our shareholders.
Just as CIRI has prepared for disaster, I encourage you to make a plan for yourself and your family. To mark the anniversary of the Good Friday earthquake, the state is participating in The Great Alaska ShakeOut, a series of preparedness events and an earthquake drill that will be held the day of the anniversary. CIRI is participating in the ShakeOut and will be holding an earthquake drill for its employees as part of its involvement.
The event website, www.shakeout.org/Alaska, has great tips for how you can personally prepare for and respond to earthquakes. You can get additional information from disaster preparedness organizations like the American Red Cross. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has an excellent website with helpful suggestions atwww.ready.gov.
I hope you’ll take the upcoming Good Friday earthquake anniversary as a time to reflect and to remember, but also to make sure you have the tools to prepare for whatever lies ahead, bad or good.