CORDOVA, Alaska – Members of Alaska National Guard’s 1/297th Alpha Troop out of Anchorage, Alaska, and Cordova citizens worked together to provide clean water to the community for Alaska Shield 14 here on March 29, 2014.
“It's important that we have the capability to make water for anything tragic that happens, any emergencies,” said Donald J. Peck, one of the volunteers and an employee at the water treatment plant.
A handful of local volunteers gathered around an odd green box on the dock of the bay, hoping for a drink of water. More importantly, they were hoping to make potable water for the whole town. The green box is a desalinator that pumps salt water and then removes salt and contaminates. The newly potable water is pumped into a mattress-sized yellow bag in the bed of a truck for transportation the center of town where the National Guard established a point of distribution where citizens can fill containers for drinking, cooking and other uses.
Up the hill, at the town's POD, National Guard members help pour water from the bag into five gallon buckets. With a population of only 2,267 citizens, the troops provide Cordova with valuable manpower. They helped setup the POD, provide security and hand out disaster relief information, along with the buckets of water, to citizens who came to claim their desalinated water ration.
“In the case of a disaster we're not going to have the manpower,” said Barb Bunte, a nurse at the State of Alaska Public Health Clinic in Cordova. If there were a disaster it is likely to cause panic and desperation for supplies, according to Bunte, and National Guard would help create order.
From emergency medical response, evacuation, potable water distribution and a multitude of other operations all working together to take care of Alaskans in times of disaster.
National Guard members are here as part of Alaska Shield 14, a large disaster exercise designed to test Alaska's preparedness for a situation like the earthquake and subsequent tsunami 50 years ago. Alaska Shield 14 involves state, federal, military and local agencies, designed to test the response and coordination of the disaster modeled after the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated much of South Central Alaska including the city of Cordova.