Two giant warehouses will hold supplies in case of a natural disaster in the hard-to-reach state.
JUNEAU, ALASKA - Alaska is known for pioneering, self-reliant residents who are accustomed to remote locations and harsh weather. Despite that, Gov. Sean Parnell worries a major earthquake or volcanic eruption could leave the state's 720,000 residents stranded and cut off from food and supply lines. His answer: Build giant warehouses full of emergency food and supplies, just in case.
For some in the Lower 48, it may seem like an extreme step. But Parnell says this is just Alaska. Unlike the rest of the Lower 48, help isn't a few miles away. Last winter, a Russian tanker spent weeks breaking through thick sea ice to reach the remote town of Nome with the final fuel shipment of the season.
Weather isn't the only thing that can wreak havoc. The state's worst natural disaster was in 1964, when a magnitude-9.2 earthquake and resulting tsunami killed 131 people and disrupted electrical systems, water mains and communication lines.
"We have a different motivation to do this, because help is a long ways away," said John Madden, Alaska's emergency management director.
The state plans two food stockpiles in or near Fairbanks and Anchorage, two cities that also have military bases. Construction on the two storage facilities will begin this fall, and the first food deliveries are targeted for December. The goal is to have enough food to feed 40,000 people for up to a week, including three days of ready-to-eat meals and four days of bulk food that can be prepared and cooked for large groups.