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Residents detail emergency response troubles

Michelle Theriault Boots

Alaskans told legislators about problems with the emergency response to the recent windstorms at a State Senate Affairs Committee meeting in Anchorage Monday.

Mary Jones, who heads an East Anchorage seniors group, said four of the 30 people in her group ended up hospitalized for reasons related to power outages after Anchorage's powerful early September storm. Some were stuck without a generator, phone or Internet access and had no way to get vital information and services, she said.

Others testified about losing fully stocked freezers full of fish, game and berries during power outages that stretched for up to five days.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said the storm had been a wake up call for the city and for him personally -- he had flashlights but no charged batteries.

Better planning is needed to help vulnerable populations such as seniors and people with disabilities, he said.

"If this had happened in the middle of the winter, it would have been potentially devastating," he said.

The hearing, held at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, also included state and city leaders and utility representatives.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.


By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS
Anchorage Daily News