Mayor: Borough needed more prep for quake


Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was praised for their quick response following the Nov. 30, 7.0 magnitude earthquake, however, borough Mayor Charlie Pierce said there was room for improvement for borough administration.

“It was evident that our performance, although very well, was not anywhere near to how the school district had performed,” Pierce said at the Dec. 4 borough assembly meeting.

Pierce said the borough hasn’t practiced any drills or performed emergency training in case of earthquakes or even fires.

“We don’t train,” Pierce said. “We haven’t had any fire drills or any evacuation plans that employees were familiar with. There were a number of people in (the borough building) going in different directions and weren’t really certain about what to do.”

On Dec. 3, Pierce said Borough directors, managers and chiefs gathered to go over how they reacted and made a plan for what to do if another emergency occurs.

“We addressed that on Dec. 3 to make sure if we have an earthquake tomorrow, or if we have one this evening, that we will know what to do.”

Pierce said per their new training, visitors in the borough building are asked to follow an employee in the case of an emergency.

The mayor also commended the school district at the Dec. 4 assembly meeting on its ability to address the proper emergency procedures.

Superintendent Sean Dusek said during the Dec. 3 Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Education Board meeting that teachers and staff across the peninsula made sure students were safe.

“Our staff performed very, very well in a stressful situation,” Dusek said. “It came at a very odd time. At the elementary schools, it was drop-off time for students. The staff here did a great job of implementing the critical incident plan that we have. We had some things happen to some of our schools, but compared to Anchorage and the Mat-Su, it was very minor.”

Dusek said the school district has reached out to both the Anchorage and Mat-Su school districts to offer assistance.

People outside of the borough recognized the borough and district’s quick response, as well. At the Dec. 4 borough assembly meeting, Tim Dillon, executive director for the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, said the borough and the school district’s performance after the earthquake was outstanding.

“Between our mayor and our superintendent and their staffs, the way they performed not only on Friday but right straight through the weekend has just been outstanding,” Dillon said. “That’s what makes the Kenai Peninsula such a great place to live.”

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