Anchorage, Alaska -- A group of Kenai Peninsula business people, government agencies and non-profit organizations and institutions have joined forces to develop mitigation actions that reduce the effects of future earthquake, tsunami, flood, volcano eruptions, wildfire and other natural disasters. The partnership, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) new Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities initiative, has scheduled its official signing ceremonies for Wednesday, July 7, 1999 at the Kenai Visitor Center in Kenai.
Thirty-five years ago Alaska residents suffered the devastating effects of a 9.2 magnitude earthquake. Quake-damage to the Kenai Peninsula's coastal towns of Homer, Seward and Seldovia caused submergence of up to 8 feet. "We have reason to proactively address natural disaster through mitigation," said Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre. "In the 1964 event a majority of transportation facilities, roads, bridges, etc., were totally destroyed in the quake area, including the railhead in Seward." Severe quakes will occur again in the Pacific Northwest, it is not a matter of if, but when.
FEMA Director James L. Witt agrees. "Every dollar spent preparing for natural disaster saves two to three dollars in post-disaster response and recovery costs," said Witt. "Project Impact is a national initiative designed to unite government in coalition with business, industry and civic stakeholders to reduce community vulnerability when natural events occur."
The Kenai Peninsula's Project Impact award-winning proposal includes work to retrofit key public facilities and infrastructure to better withstand earthquakes and flooding. The proposal also addresses wildfire through FireWise, a home and business owner education program teaching defensible space techniques - a serious concern on the Peninsula where in excess of one million acres of spruce bark beetle killed timber heightens the seriousness of a wildfire occurrence.
Director Witt joins Kenai Peninsula Mayor Mike Navarre, Senator Ted Stevens, Governor Knowles, Alaska Commissioner of Military and Veteran Affairs General Phillip Oates? area business representatives, agencies and organizations on Wednesday, July 7 at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center for the ceremonial signing of Project Impact's Memorandum of Understanding. Unocal Alaska Resources sponsor the event.