‘Learn. Plan. Prevail’
By Coleen Turner, Northern Regional Manager,
Team work is mission-critical in our day-to-day work in the field of child protection — and even more vital when disaster strikes. The Northern Region, which is over 300,000 square miles, has experienced three natural disasters or severe weather events within the last year:
- Tsunami off the Western coast
- Yukon River flooded a significant portion of Galena, destroying the OCS office
- Wild land fires throughout the Interior
Our experiences have taught us invaluable lessons:
Safety is paramount
During all three of these emergencies it was imperative that we be able to assess the following:
- Who could be affected and their location: including foster families, relative care providers, staff, etc. NRO Licensing staff pulled a caseload report, sorted it by provider, pulled the disaster location ZIP code and began calling homes where children were in placement. CPS developed a Severe Weather/Disaster Questionnaire for Caregivers and phone calls were made.
- Family’s plan if affected by the disaster: evacuation plan, how basic needs will be met, and communication if help needed
Continuing Operations Plan
When the Galena office flooded, the two employees were evacuated to Fairbanks. We now had staff and families who were homeless. We needed to meet their safety and well-being needs while continuing to do our job. Through collaborative efforts with Tanana Chiefs Conference and Loudon Tribal Council, we have been able to continue to serve that region from Fairbanks.
At the end of the day, teamwork kept families and staff safe.
For more about the state of Alaska’s disaster preparedness and tools to use with your own family, check out www.ready.alaska.gov so you can “Learn. Plan. Prevail” as the next disaster is never far away.