The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Nov. 30, 2018 reminds us of the seriousness of where we live, and the importance of being ready when disaster strikes. But, it also reminds us of the resiliency of our communities, and just how quickly we come together in times of crisis.
Within hours of the earthquake, Red Cross of Alaska volunteer disaster workers were on the ground in Southcentral Alaska, offering comfort, relief supplies and support to those affected by the initial quake and ensuing aftershocks.
Red Cross emergency shelters were open by late afternoon on Nov. 30 in Anchorage, Chugiak and Wasilla. Volunteers were bustling, setting up feeding areas, technology hubs, health services areas and registration desks. Cots were delivered to arrange the overnight sleeping areas and our partners at the Salvation Army had arrived and began serving dinner.
A total of 230 overnight stays in Red Cross emergency shelters were provided to residents across the affected areas, and more than 2,237 meals and snacks were served alongside nonprofit partners during the first two weeks of the response.
Distribution of Emergency Supplies
In the days that followed Nov. 30, as people returned to their homes to pick up the pieces, the Red Cross of Alaska distributed relief supplies to those in need. Emergency clean-up kits included items like water, masks, tarps, brooms, and more.
Approximately 160 personal hygiene kits, clean-up kits and cases of water were distributed to affected residents.
Disaster Mental Health
The earthquake was a very unsettling event for many Alaskans. Red Cross disaster mental health and health services volunteers traveled to disaster sites across the affected area to help evaluate the mental state of disaster victims, provide psychological first aid and offer tips for coping with crisis.
Nearly 350 disaster health and mental health contacts have been made to assist affected residents in the past month.
Damage Assessment and Recovery Casework
Using cutting-edge technology that deploys advanced mapping and detailed demographics, damage assessment teams set to work, locating and surveying heavily damaged homes in the affected areas.
Red Cross damage assessments have been conducted in more than 650 homes affected by the earthquake and the thousands of aftershocks that followed.
Once damage is assessed, the Red Cross then may be able to provide residents with additional resources through recovery casework, by providing immediate financial assistance where possible and creating the right plans to meet each need.
To date, more than 160 cases have been opened to provide assistance to more than 430 affected residents through the Red Cross recovery casework process.
As a result of the earthquake, the Red Cross has mobilized a total of 144 disaster workers since Nov. 30.
During the last month, 13 training sessions have also been conducted for both new and existing Red Cross volunteers on a variety of subjects, ranging from basic Red Cross orientation courses to damage assessment courses and refreshers on shelter operations.
When earthquake victims turned to us in their darkest hours, Red Cross volunteers provided relief and comfort, thanks to generous supporters in Alaska and around the country. In a year of unprecedented events, your support has enabled us to remain nimble in our response, and to prepare for the next big disaster.
Please visit redcross.org/Alaska to learn more about our programs and services.