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Community Description and Data Interpretation
Anchorage is the most populated city of the state of Alaska. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 300,950 people reside in Alaska’s largest city (factfinder.census.gov). Anchorage land area is approximately 1700 square miles with approximately 180 people per square mile (www.city-data.com). The city is located in the south central region of the largest state in the union and is known for its travel and tourism industry. People come to Anchorage from around the world while on their way to view the rest of this majestic state. Anchorage is the home of the World Championship Sled Dog Race as well as the ceremonial starting location of the world famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Anchorage is a military friendly community with the United States Air Force and the United States Army both stationed at the military installation known as Joint Based Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) located within the municipality. Anchorage’s economy consists of revenues from the petroleum industry, the military, and the tourism/service industry. Anchorage is also known for its closeness with wildlife since the Chugach State Park, which is one of the four largest state parks in the United States, is located within the municipality (dnr.alaska.gov). It is not uncommon to read and hear about moose or bear encounters while walking on the local bike trails, as well as whale watching in the body of water known as the Cook Inlet, named after the famous explorer, Captain James Cook.
Being the state’s largest city, the community has its share of issues. Some of the issues are currently being addressed while other issues are a continuous battle. This nurse has lived in this community for the past 36 years and has seen, first hand, the negatives and positives that this community has encountered. Based on the information gathered and observed, this nurse has made the following assessments.
Population/Economic Assessment Being the most populated city in the state of Alaska, Anchorage is the also the main business center for a majority of the state. According to the most recent data provided for the U.S. Census Bureau, Anchorage’s population is approximately 300,950 people (www.quickfacts.census.gov). The majority of the populations are Caucasian making up approximately 61.0%, with Asian being the second most population at 9.1%. Anchorage’s median income at $77, 454, is approximately 1.5% higher than the national of $52,250 (www.census.gov). However, the cost of living is also higher due to the additional expense needed to ship goods and products to the northern most state in the union. Anchorage’s poverty level at 7.9% is almost half the national level at 14.5% and has been steadily declining (www.census.gov). Anchorage has seen a steady growth in its population over the past 30 years due to its strong economy and distribution of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend payments to each Alaska resident (pfd.alaska.gov). The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend was created using petroleum industry revenues as an investment for when there’s no longer oil available as an investment. Each year, every eligible Alaska resident receives a portion of that investment. This has a great impact on the local economy, especially in Anchorage, since it’s the main business and retail hub for the state. Anchorage’s unemployment rate is approximately 4.9% as compared to the national average of just below 7%. As with any community, Anchorage has its share of homelessness. There were a reported 851 homeless residents in 2013. As the population grows, so does its share of social and safety issues. Anchorage’s healthy economy does not make it immune from other social challenges faced by all communities.

Neighborhood/Community Safety Anchorage has an overall health wise community. The median age is 33 years old, outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, fishing, biking, skiing (cross country and downhill), ice and mountain climbing, riding snow machines (snow mobiles to the non-locals), and camping are the primary activities of choice for this community. While enjoying those outdoor activities, it is very common to encounter wild animals such as moose and bears. Serious injuries and death has occurred to residents who unknowingly encountered these animals while protecting their calves or cubs. Local schools have ‘moose monitors’ to watch out for moose or bears while children are playing on the playground during recess. The air quality index for the community is rated as good and the water quality is excellent (www.scorecard.goodguide.com). One of the attractions the visitors and residents enjoy is the clean, fresh air the community has to offer. This is especially important for the community’s outdoor enthusiasts. Healthcare is readily accessible for all residents at all income levels. For those with lower household incomes, there are various health providers who provide healthcare on a sliding fee scale. The municipal health department and the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center provide services and health education to the members of the community for all ages (www.anhc.org). Being Alaska’s largest and most populated city come with its share of issues. Alaska, Anchorage in particular, has a high rate of domestic violence. Drugs and alcohol are major factors that contribute to domestic violence in the community. Drugs and alcohol also factor into Anchorage high crime rate. Anchorage has consistently been rated as one of the most dangerous cities per capita for violent crimes in the United States (www.city-data.com). Along with violent crimes, suicide is also very prevalent. Anchorage’s suicide rate is also one of the highest per capita in the nation (dhss.alaska.gov). Seasonal Affect Disorder is a contributing factor for the high rates of suicide (www.mayoclinic.rog). Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are also very high in Anchorage. The state of Alaska, Anchorage in particular, has one of the highest rates of reported STD’s in the nation (www.epi.hss.state.ak.us). STD testing, education and prevention counseling is offered free of charge through the municipal health department. Police and fire response to emergencies are very good. Even though Anchorage is large in square miles, the community is still has a small town attitude.
Cultural Assessment The culture of Anchorage is very diverse. The community is very open and accepting of all cultures from around the world. Various religions are practiced openly in the community. Even though this is a young community as far as median age (32.9 years old), elders are given great respect and are sought after for advice when difficult situations are encountered. Although Caucasians are the predominant culture, the community seeks insight from other subcultures (Asian, Hispanic, Alaska Native/American Indian) when sensitive community issues arises. Mental health is a serious concern in Anchorage. Males outnumber females but a small percent (1.4%), which is a big change from the 2:1 man to woman ratio over 40 years ago. The ratio was so large that women in the lower 48 were coming to Alaska searching for a mate. The Alaska Man Magazine was created because of the high number of men seeking wives in the lower 48 and vice versa. Due to the community’s involvement with the military, there are many servicemen and women who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and depression from seasonal changes (SAD) and being away from families in the lower 48 (a term Alaskans use to describe the rest of the United States except Hawaii). Suicide is of great concern. Efforts have been made to inform the community of suicide prevention strategies.

Disaster Assessment and Planning On March 27, 1964, the largest recorded earthquake in America’s history happened in Alaska. It measured a 9.2 magnitude on the Richter scale, causing damage throughout the coastal communities in Alaska and reached as far as Washington and parts of Canada (www.aeic.alaska.edu). Ever since, disaster preparedness has been a top priority to the people of Alaska, especially the city of Anchorage. The community as a whole is very aware and prepared for earthquakes, tsunamis, and fires. Each year, on the anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake, the city is reminded on the importance of being prepared for natural disasters. Mutual aid agreements are in place with surrounding communities as well as the local military installations in case of disasters. All three local area hospitals have disaster plans in effect in conjunction with the city’s disaster plan. Disaster drills are conducted involving the local fire department, police department, and volunteer rescue groups annually. Emergency communications are tested periodically to ensure that it’s functioning properly. Residents are known to have emergency food and water stored in their garages or storage sheds and many residents carry emergency kits in their vehicles. The community is known to come together and help one another when disasters happen, no matter how large or small the disaster may be.
Summary
Anchorage, Alaska is the most populated city in the state of Alaska and is also the state’s primary business center. The community is healthy in general, but does have areas that need improvement. It’s high crime rate per capita, high incidents of STD’s, suicides, and domestic violence issues makes it a less than desirable community to reside in at first look. The community can do more to address these issues through education outreach; however, it is doing the best it can with the resources allotted. Once you look at the overall picture of its strong economy, diverse community, and disaster planning, the city is a good place to raise a family or a fresh start for someone seeking adventure. The outdoor activities the community has to offer is unlike anywhere in the United States. Access to state and national parks, wildlife, and its majestic views makes it the envy of many other communities throughout the nation.

References
About Your Community. (2011, January 1). Retrieved January 15, 2015, from http://scorecard.goodguide.com/community/index.tcl?zip_code=99504&set_community_zipcode_cookie_p=t&x=44&y=5

Alaska, Alaska Native, and National Suicide Rates. (2012, January 1). Retrieved January 15, 2015, from http://dhss.alaska.gov/SuicidePrevention/Pages/Statistics/aksuiciderate_nativenonnative96-05.aspx

Alaska HIV and STD Programs. (2014, January 1). Retrieved January 21, 2015, from http://www.epi.hss.state.ak.us/hivstd/default.stm

American FactFinder - Community Facts. (2014, January 1). Retrieved January 14, 2015, from http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml

Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center | Building a Healthier Anchorage. (2012, January 1). Retrieved January 21, 2015, from http://anhc.org/

Chugach State Park, Alaska State Parks. (2014, January 1). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chugach/

Noss, A. (2014, September 1). Household Income 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2015, from http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/acs/acsbr13-02.pdf

Permanent Fund. (2012, January 1). Retrieved January 21, 2015, from http://pfd.alaska.gov/Home/index

The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964. (2002, January 1). Retrieved January 22, 2015, from http://www.aeic.alaska.edu/quakes/Alaska_1964_earthquake.html

United States Census Bureau. (2014, January 1). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/02/02020.html…...

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