Focus shifts to childcare needs in wake of earthquake

Parts of the walls at King Tech High School fell to the floor during the earthquake on Friday. (Photo by Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

Most city services are getting back to normal in Anchorage after Friday’s major earthquake. Utilities like electricity, water, and trash collection are back to pre-quake status.

Anchorage schools are not.

With schools closed for the entire week in Anchorage, many families are looking for childcare so they can get back to work.

thread, an organization focused on child care and early education, is working with state and municipal childcare licensing agencies to compile a list of options for families. thread CEO Stephanie Berglund said childcare openings in the area are always limited, but the earthquake has made the situation worse.

“Some (childcare facilities) who are open may not be able to even serve their regular families because of some of their staff not being able to report to work,” Berglund said.

You can find a list of available resources at threadalaska.org. Berglund said they will not be listing operations at unlicensed facilities. The Anchorage Daily News has also compiled a list with options.

Berglund said people should talk to their employers about possibilities or alternatives to their regular work schedule.

“We’re encouraging them to review them their personnel policies for taking time off,” Berglund said. “We’re also encouraging people to talk with their employers about their childcare needs. Maybe they have some flexible options for working from home, or possibly bringing their children into work, or flexing their time. Or possibly making some time up later.”

Berglund said they are also encouraging employers to be as flexible as possible during this emergency.

Some camps, like Trailside Discovery Camp, had the staff to run a program but struggled for days to find a location. Trailside Discovery director Victoria Long-Leather said their camp is usually at Campbell Creek Science Center but that building is still undergoing a structural assessment. On Tuesday evening they secured space at the Egan Center. They will offer a free camp with winter ecology lessons from 7 am until 7 pm, Wednesday through Friday.

In addition to childcare, other families are affected by the lack of access to school lunches. Children’s Lunchbox will be offering food at the Parachutes Teen Center and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Mountain View and Woodland Park.

The Anchorage School District will be offering meals for anyone 18 and younger Tuesday through Friday from 11am-3pm at the following sites:

  • Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
  • Central Middle School
  • Creekside Park Elementary School
  • Fairview Elementary School
  • Mountain View Elementary School
  • Muldoon Elementary School
  • North Star Elementary School
  • Nunaka Valley Elementary School
  • Williwaw Elementary School

Food pantries around the area are also up and running. You can find a list here.

Road problems also remain an issue. On Monday afternoon, City Manager Bill Falsey said that even though forecasted snow failed to materialize, rain and ice have made for terrible driving conditions on top of already quake-damaged streets.

“We think the significant challenge is going to mopping up some of our road work,” Falsey said.

However, there is promising news about the Glenn Highway. Road crews are on track to repair damaged lanes by Tuesday’s morning commute, potentially restoring the highway to two lanes in both directions. That will make a big difference for residents north of Anchorage, although some speed reductions and modified traffic flows around bridge areas will remain.

While some city employees were told to stay home if they could on Monday, the municipality is on track to be open as usual for the remainder of the week.

“We look like we’re going to have a pretty normal Tuesday,” Falsey said. “We’re going to put people on a regular schedule, have municipal business back open as normal. If folks have extraordinary needs we’re going to have them take leave, we’ll be granting leave liberally. But otherwise we’re asking all folks to report to work, and we’ll be up and ready for business.”

On Tuesday night, the administration may ask the Assembly to extend the mayor’s declaration of a civil emergency. According to Falsey, the move would be primarily to help expedite the procurement process as the city continues recovery efforts.