Mt. St. Augustine: Games’ officials prepared to deal with mightiest opponent

Posted: Wednesday, March 08, 2006


  Mt. St. Augustine: Games' officials prepared to deal with mightiest opponent Photo Courtesy of Alaska Volcano

Mt. St. Augustine: Games' officials prepared to deal with mightiest opponent

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Volcano

About 120 miles southwest of the Arctic Winter Games headquarters, the Games most intimidating opponent could lie in wait. Rising 4,206 feet out of Kachemak Bay near Homer, looms Mt. St. Augustine, a volcano that has recently shown its “spirit within” by unleashing ash and clouds into the skies over the Kenai Peninsula.

Some days there are multiple eruptions, other days there are none. The fact that volcanic ash can destroy motorized equipment, stop an airplane in mid-flight or be harmful to human lungs is something Peninsula residents have been living with for a few months. However, with an additional 8,000 visitors now within its grasp, some are wondering what might happen if a major eruption or ash advisory occurs during the Games.

Tim Dillon, general manager for the Games, addressed this during Tuesday’s media briefing and talked of how the Games are prepared for natural disasters like avalanches, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

Dillon said this is something we are used to in Alaska and that State Troopers always know what is going on.

“We had black boxes installed in the buses transporting the athletes to monitor any problems,” said Dillon. He explained how Homer has a tsunami warning system in place that gets tested the first Thursday of every month.

Some parents are not aware there could be an ash cloud that could smother the events rapidly if wind conditions are just right during a major eruption.

“I heard on the news something about a volcano, but no concern, everything seems to be okay. I did not know that that the volcano was nearby,” said Christine Siu, who has a child competing for the Northwest Territories in the indoor soccer tournament.

Parents and participants can rest assured the State Troopers know what to do if a natural disaster unfolds.

“Emergency Services in Anchorage has a plan to deal with the situation if a problem arises,” said Alaska State Trooper Todd Vanliere.

As far as safety for the athletes on the highway system going to and from Homer, “one or two State Trooper patrol cars will escort the buses to make sure there are not any problems along the highway,” said Vanliere.

For those of us who live here, earthquakes and volcanoes are frequent occurrences in Alaska, so rest assured we’re ready. While you can’t beat a competitor like Mt. St. Augustine, you can be prepared for whatever it has to dish out.

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