first_imgThe Fairbanks North Star Borough is the first in Alaska to be certified as Storm Ready. The recognition was awarded yesterday as part of a program run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Weather Service. The certification emphasizes communication and preparation in meeting dire events.Listen nowFairbanks Borough Emergency Operations Director David Gibbs says he and others in the borough have been pursuing the certification for years. In order to qualify a community needs establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency center. It also needs to plan for hazardous events, and be able to receive weather warnings and alert the public by more than one way. There other qualifications as well. Gibbs said all are aimed to help the borough deal with something like the ice storms that have become more common in the interior.“You know, everybody thinks of big storms and lots of snow that could bring us to our knees but ice generally will,” Gibbs said. “I believe it was November 2010 where we had a really significant storm that we had about an inch of precipitation almost immediately following a super cool -25 degree temeperature. That literally brought us to our knees.”Gibbs said an important step to successfully respond to the next emergency is information from the public. Borough Emergency Manager Baird Stiefel said residents are encouraged to share important needs, such as critical medications or physical limitations with a new service called Smart Prepare. Then when a hazardous event strikes responders can prioritize.“Then I can realize, just by looking at the area affected, if everybody’s registered, this person may need oxygen, this person, etc,” Stiefel said. “So you look at your special needs population and try to get those resources out to them.”While the state has 21 StormReady sites, and 13 StormReady/Tsunami ready communities, Fairbanks is the first borough to be certified. Locally, Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Greely are also certified.last_img

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