Earth-quake causes damage, evacuation and severe power outages
Alaska was struck with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Jan 24, waking residents from the city of Anchorage at approximately 1:30 a.m. local time according to the Anchorage Police Department in a statement to the press.
Overall, there was minimal structural damage with various roads in the Kasilof peninsula requiring urgent repair in the wake of the quake. According to Anchorage and Valdez police departments, they have had no reports of any injury or significant damage to personal property.
The earthquake itself was mostly localized to west of Anchor Point in the Kenai Peninsula, approximately 320 km southwest of Anchorage. Following this, a 4.3 magnitude aftershock struck Cook Inlet two hours later according to the Associated Press.
In addition, several dozen homes located in Kenai had to be evacuated due to the possibility of gas leaks. According to Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl, 22 homes were evacuated as local gas companies were investigating the scene.
“It started out as a shaking and it seemed very much like a normal earthquake. But then it started to feel like a normal swaying, like a very smooth side-to-side swaying,” stated Vincent Nusunginya, 34, of Kenai. “It was unsettling. Some things got knocked over, but there was no damage.”
In addition to structural damage, power outages have been experienced to damage sustained to Matanuska Electric Association and Chugach Electric in the Anchorage area. According to The Homer Electric Association, about 4,800 customers lost power early Sunday.
Ron Barta, one of the people to first experience the quake, was in his house when the shook hit at approximately 1:34 a.m.
Barta (55), stated in an interview with the Associated Press that the pictures on the walls of his house started to move and initially feared for the safety of his house.
“I was sitting here with the dogs getting ready to go to bed about 1:34 local time. … I felt a little rumble that didn’t quit for about 30 to 45 seconds. It felt like the house moved,” stated Barta.
The earthquake “was the biggest I ever felt as long as I have lived here,” Barta said.
According to reporter Mark Thiessen, he had been sleeping for about two hours before the quake hit.
“I remember the bed swaying back and forth, and loud noises, enough to wake me up even after taking sleeping pills,” stated Thiessen, 53. “My husband came into the bedroom forcefully saying, ‘Get up! Get up!’ “he said. “But I was already awake, trying to figure out what was happening.”
“The house started to shake violently. The TV we were watching fell over, stuff fell off the walls,” he said. “Dishes were crashing, and we sprinted toward the doorway,” stated Andrew Sayers, 26, who was at home when the quake hit.
Later, as he was driving to visit his mother, Sayers observed a damaged road. “We launched over this crack in the road. It’s a miracle we didn’t bust our tires on it,” he said.
Typically while these quakes don’t often cause a lot of damage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), they “may be felt at great distance from their epicenters.”
Historically Alaska has experienced numerous earthquakes with the second largest global tremor on record occurring on March 27, 1964, which is commonly referred to as the M 9.3 Great Alaska earthquake.