Due to Juneau’s geographic location on the Gastineau Channel that separates mainland Juneau from Douglas Island, the city is vulnerable to a number of natural and manmade hazards, including:
- Avalanches. Steep hills are prone to downhill-moving masses of snow. Over 70 buildings in Juneau have been struck by avalanches in the last 100 years.
- Earthquakes. The Queen Charlotte fault runs next to Juneau which suffered strong earthquakes in 1949 (8.1), 1958 (7.9) and 1972 (7.6).
- Severe Weather. Juneau is likely to experience heavy snow, coastal storms, high winds, dense fog, ice storms and extreme cold. Juneau’s record low temperature is 22 below zero Fahrenheit with a wind chill of 50 below.
- Landslides. The spring/summer equivalent of avalanches.
- Tsunamis/Seiches. Tsunamis (massive waves) created by landslides are more common in Alaska than any other U.S. state. Seiches (large waves sloshing back and forth) occur when a mass of earth slides into a channel or lake.
- Floods. Juneau is a flood-prone area, especially near the Mendenhall River.
- Fires. The long, cold winters result in more fires caused by space heaters, candles and fireplaces.
How to Become an Emergency Management Specialist in Juneau, Alaska
The job requires a bachelor’s degree in emergency management (EM) or a degree in public administration with a certificate in EM. The Juneau Human Resources website posts all open jobs with the city as well as the needed application forms; however, applications are only accepted for open positions. Additional information about paid and volunteer opportunities with the Juneau Office of Emergency Management can be obtained by emailing Tom_Mattice@ci.juneau.ak.us.
One university in Alaska offers a degree program in emergency management from which an average of 27 students graduate each year. Alaskans can also obtain an EM degree from several accredited on-line schools.
In addition to the city emergency management office, EM specialists are employed by:
- Hospitals/Medical Centers
- Oil and Gas Companies
- Electric Power Companies
- Relief Organizations
The average annual salary for emergency management specialists in Juneau is $50,000.
Emergency Management in Action in Juneau
The City/Borough of Juneau Office of Emergency Management was established for the purpose of “organized analysis, planning and assignment of resources to best administer services in the event of a disaster or large emergency.” The Emergency Operations Plan released on July 15, 2003 addresses specific goals related to:
- Preparedness. Establishes response methods, conducts training/disaster simulation exercises and distributes household and business preparedness information.
- Mitigation. Lessens the adverse impact of a disaster through such actions as slope stabilization, elevation of buildings in flood-prone areas, construction of sea walls to combat storm surges and the creation of fire-resistant areas around homes.
- Response. Actions taken during a disaster such as suppression, emergency medical care, search/rescue, sheltering displaced residents and relief services.
- Recovery. Re-establishing services, helping to re-open businesses, etc.
Other matters addressed in the Emergency Operations Plan deal with:
- Hazardous materials
- Cruise ship shore-side response
- Terrorism/weapons of mass destructions
The Juneau Office of Emergency Management is also responsible for training volunteers for the FEMA-designed Citizen Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) which supports first responders before, during and after a disaster/emergency.