ANCHORAGE - The State of Alaska has plans in the works for an emergency shelter in case a major natural disaster hits our state. The goal is to make Alaska as self-sufficient as possible in case the state gets cut off from supplies from the Lower 48.
"It's 1,500 miles from Anchorage to Seattle. That's a long time and a long ways if we are reliant along that supply line, and we can't land aircraft of dock boats then we're not serving the people," said John Madden, Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alaska.
It requested private companies come up with proposals. That doesn't necessarily mean drawing up construction plans for a new warehouse, but rather the state would like to see companies use innovative ideas like using existing facilities around Anchorage or Fairbanks.
"We want to make sure we can rapidly stabilize, that we can provide power to the essential infrastructure, that we have communication so we can reach not only around the state but to the Lower 48," said Madden.
One of the biggest concerns in the case of a disaster is food. The state wants the shelter to have enough to feed 40,000 people for one week and cover all nutritional needs for everyone from infants to seniors. The company that wins the bid would be allotted $4 million in state money to not only purchase the food but also to handle the way it's stored and rotated.
"We have a distribution [plan], one in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks, so we can take care of the entire state. We want to make sure it's accessible, that the inventory is rotated through and it has easy access so we can move quickly and get goods out of it," said Madden.
Water, of course, is another essential. Bottled water is heavy and hard to get to remote locations. That's why the state has a number of portable purification units that can produce hundreds of gallons of fresh water every day.
"One of the things about Alaska is we have plenty of small streams, lakes and rivers that we can pull water from. We can purify it and give it to the people in need," said Jeremy Zidek, a Homeland Security Public Information Officer.
Madden says it's also residents' responsibility to be prepared as well. He says every home should have a stockpile of food and water for one week just in case.