ACS Alaska

April 01, 2011 | Ephraim Palmero

On Christmas Day 2010, a severe storm hit Savoonga, Alaska. High northeast winds carrying salt spray from the ocean, froze on electrical equipment. This combined with extreme cold slapped electrical lines and produced a power outage.

The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management called Butch Palmero, Alaska Adventist Community Services director, to activate disaster response and donations operations. Savoonga's mayor also requested disaster assistance. Residents took shelter in the school while emergency food and blankets were flown in. With no way to generate heat in the subzero wind chill, dozens of homes froze solid with reports of broken pipes. Ruth de Graff, from ACS Eagle River, Alaska, and Sandy Teeling, from ACS Wasilla, Alaska, with other supporting local ACS networks, staged a donation process with 500 pounds of food, diapers, sleeping bags and space heaters. The Red Cross and Alaska Airlines provided assistance for transportation of relief shipments.

Power was restored by Jan. 3, but with intermittent outages. On Jan. 4, Debbie Reed of DHSEM visited Savoonga and commended Bill and Elouise Hawkes, Savoonga ACS disaster response coordinators, for a service well done. Reed cited the fast and immediate response of the Adventist Church during disasters and their commitment to uplifting suffering communities. ACS of Alaska is the recipient of the prestigious White House' Presidential Volunteer Service Award for 2009.