Coast Guard Forces Valdez assist Valdez in snow removal

17th Coast Guard District NewsVALDEZ, Alaska — Coast Guard personnel stationed in Valdez broke out their snow shovels to assist the community following record snowfall over the past week.

Valdez, appropriately named the “Snow Capital of the United States,” receives an average of 30 feet of snow each winter. The winter of 1989 to 1990 currently holds the record as the snowiest winter ever with a total of 46 feet of snowfall. According to the National Weather Service, as of 8 a.m. on Jan. 12, 26.5 feet of snow has fallen in Valdez.

Massive amounts of snow quickly became a problem, threatening to collapse roofs in the community and shutting down schools. City snow removal measures have been hindered due to equipment shortages and lack of personnel to assist with the impressive snowfall.

Personnel from Marine Safety Unit Valdez, Sector Field Office Valdez, Coast Guard Cutter Long Island, Station Valdez, and Electronics Support Detachment Valdez, collectively referred to as Coast Guard Forces Valdez, have stepped up to assist the city in removing the rising snow.

Operations dependant, Forces Valdez has committed eight-person crews working rotating shifts around the clock to assist the city in removing snow from the roofs of the elementary school and other buildings around town. Seven-person crews are also working around the clock to manage snow removal operations within the 28-unit Coast Guard housing complex and the many other Coast Guard buildings and property throughout town.

Coast Guard crews have been available when needed in emergency situations, as happened today when a shedding roof avalanched into the side of a neighbor’s home, cutting off access to the front door and knocking two side doors off their frames.

“We are doing all that we can to support the city,” said Cmdr. Benjamin Hawkins, commanding officer of MSU Valdez. “We have Coast Guard personnel in the field working with other volunteers to clear snow from affected buildings and are contributing personnel to the city-managed response as well.”

Needed equipment, including snow scoops and ice cutting devices, has arrived, enabling the city to increase snow removal efforts on affected buildings. In addition, the city has stood up its Emergency Operations Center to oversee the overall response to the heavy snowfall.

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