Emergency and Disaster Management
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 viewing the EOP, a variety of EDM facets are represented, such as:
- Disaster sheltering
- Community partnership
- Warning and communications systems
- Incident Command Systems (ICS) construction and training
- Emergency equipment/supply inventory and acquisition
- Active disaster response
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 March 3, 2021
(last updated March 3, 2021)
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 local education inclusive of Valdez City Schools). The primary objective of the Unified Command throughout the pandemic has been to engage in collaborative efforts that minimize community spread of the virus so as to not overwhelm local health care capacities. The onset of 2021 represented a line of demarcation for COVID-19 in Valdez as UC partnered with our local Public Health Nurse to add another layer of protection for the community with available vaccines. Points of Dispensing (POD) for the vaccine have been in smooth operation for a number of months now and will be in the months that come.
Over this last year, citizens, visitors, business owners, and UC have exemplified what it means to be "Alaskans" - we are resilient, problem-solvers, and collaborative doers! Consequently, the effects of the COVID-19 virus in Valdez to date have been kept to a stark minimum in comparison with many other communities around the nation.
For more information on COVID-19, and the UCs ongoing efforts, go to: Valdez COVID-19 Unified Command
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. The recording of that presentation experienced technical difficulties. However, the city's Emergency Manager worked with the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen's Advisory Council (RCAC) to bring a similar presentation to a later RCAC board meeting; that presentation was successfully captured and can be viewed here.
For information and updates on the Barry Arm Landslide click here
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.
To contact the office of Emergency and Disaster Management please use the following email address:
For impending hazards or active emergencies, contact Valdez Police Department dispatch at: (907) 835-4560 or 911