Emergency and Disaster Management

Current Efforts

The City of Valdez is actively building a contemporary Emergency and Disaster Management (EDM) program. This is an ongoing effort and this page will reflect those efforts over the months and years to come. A primary focus of EDM within the city, currently, is the rebuilding of our city's Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). A well crafted EOP provides a robust framework for incident management leadership to engage in prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts to hazardous events affecting Valdez. Furthermore, a comprehensive EOP can facilitate a Whole Community approach in local EDM efforts. Near the end of 2019, members of the city's Incident Management Team contracted with a professional firm to begin development of the new EOP.

The city's EOP is crafted using an all-hazards approach; it contains annexes that address specific hazards such as floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. In fact, as a result of the recent earthquakes near Sand Point, Alaska, the annexes covering tsunamis, evacuation routes, sheltering and their associated procedures are getting special attention. Despite detours along the way (i.e. a global pandemic), the final touches and revisions are being added to an EOP that will help guide local EDM efforts for the safety and well-being of all who visit or call Valdez home. The status of the EOP, however, will never actually be "final" because it is a living document; this facilitates continual improvements as the EDM program is built. It is anticipated the EOP will be presented to the city council and local stakeholders in September or October of  2020.  

                   Be looking to the future for enhancements to this page that will model a Whole Community approach.

                                                                                                                                                                       August 5, 2020

Current Hazards  

(last updated 08-17-2020)

COVID-19 GLOBAL PANDEMIC

In March of 2020, the City of Valdez stood up a Unified Command (UC) in response to the COVID-19 virus that was spreading across the world and in conjunction with the disaster declarations made at the federal, state, and local levels. The UC is comprised of the City of Valdez Incident Management Team, Providence Valdez Medical Center (representing local health care), and Prince William Sound College (representing education inclusive of Valdez City Schools). The primary objective of the Unified Command is to engage in collaborative efforts that minimize community spread of the virus so as to not overwhelm local health care capacities. For more information on these efforts go to:  Valdez COVID-19 Unified Command 

VALDEZ GLACIER

On July 7, 2020, the Valdez Glacier experienced a massive separation event that presents hazards to those choosing to recreate on the lake or on the glacier. The event is active and dynamic; it will be ongoing, at minimum, throughout 2020. The situation is also being monitored for potential flooding hazards, which at present, represents a low probability. To protect Valdez residents, tourists, and the increase of many Alaskans vacationing in their own state this year, the City of Valdez created a three-part video series to bring awareness to this event.  To view, click on any of the following:

Safety Report Update Part One  (orientation to the separation event)

Safety Report Update Part Two  (a guide's perspective on the hazards)

Safety Report Update Part Three (equipment and safety plans)

On August 17, 2020, an enormous amount of glacier debris from the July 7th event, that was wedged near the east face of the glacier, evacuated to the center of the lake. New ice is highly unstable and open water represents risk for unexpected ice congestion. For your safety keep clear of icebergs and the face of the glacier.   

BARRY ARM LANDSLIDE - Barry Arm Fjord - PWS 

The Barry Arm Landslide is a potential threat originating in the Barry Arm fjord approximately 30 miles northeast of Whittier, Alaska. Barry Glacier has retreated rapidly in the last few years, potentially undermining a 1.7 square mile section of the previously adjoining mountain face. Scientific efforts are currently underway to evaluate the extent of the risk as well as to facilitate real-time warning. City of Valdez emergency management personnel are partnering with the National Tsunami Warning Center to provide additional education to Valdez residents on this hazard. Preliminary evaluations of a potential Barry Arm landslide indicate that up to 650,000,000 cubic yards (equating to approximately 500 Empire State Buildings) of mountain could rapidly enter the water. This could generate a massive Tsunami, 10 times larger than any other documented landslide in the Prince William Sound (PWS). Whittier could experience up to a 40’ wave from this event.  

Despite the distance from the Barry Arm fjord, a maximum extent landslide in the Barry Arm could generate an unanticipated 3 foot wave in Valdez, approximately 1.5 hours after the event was triggered. Furthermore, there would be unpredictable currents throughout the PWS lasting for an extended period of time. This presents a sliding-scale hazard for those recreating and commercial fishing between Valdez and the Barry Arm. Residents of Valdez that work and recreate in the PWS need to know that landslides can happen anywhere high-angle slopes meet the water. Always be conscious of your surroundings, unusual noises, waves, and currents. For comprehensive information on the Barry Arm Landslide click here 

Emergency Manager

In March of 2020, Aaron Baczuk divided his responsibilities with the Valdez Police Department by becoming the Emergency Manager for the City of Valdez. He serves the city in a dual-role as Emergency Manager and Investigator for the Police Department. At present, he is building the city's emergency management program and further defining the job description of Emergency Manager for the city. Aaron's wife Mindi is a local school teacher at Gilson Middle School and they have four children. If you are interested in a little more of his background click here.                                          

Contact Information

To contact the office of Emergency and Disaster Management please use the following email address:

EDM@ValdezAK.Gov

For impending hazards or active emergencies, contact Valdez Police Department dispatch at:  (907) 835-4560 or 911