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 to implement our city's new Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). For more information or to view the EOP, see the Emergency Operations Plan tab. When diving into the new EOP, a subset of many specific "focuses" emerges, such as:

  • Disaster sheltering
  • Community partnership development
  • Warning and communications systems
  • Incident Command Systems (ICS) training
  • Emergency equipment/supply inventory and acquisition  

These and many other areas are currently being addressed by the City's new Emergency Manager and the Incident Management Team (IMT). 

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

                                                                                                                                                 last updated December 7, 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 has been to engage in collaborative efforts that minimize community spread of the virus so as to not overwhelm local health care capacities. Most recently, the State of Alaska and the City of Valdez are preparing to receive vaccines to assist in combating the virus. Plans for vaccine acquisition, storage, and dispensing are actively underway. 

For comprehensive information on COVID-19, and the UCs ongoing 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; the new ice is unstable. Although we are currently in winter, and the Valdez Glacier Lake is frozen, the hazards described in the above videos, and more ( i.e. mountain landslide and snow avalanche; under and above water caving; and ice with fractures, crevasses, and imbalances), remain active. 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. 

In October of 2020, the City of Valdez hosted a virtual colloquium with representatives from numerous government agencies and scientists. These individuals graciously presented on the Barry Arm and answered questions from local stakeholders. That presentation was recorded and will soon be posted here for public viewing.   

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.                                        

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