In case you do not follow me on my social media outlets or subscribe to my e-newsletter, I wanted to communicate on my website as well that I am safe. Even into the weekend, I had friends and family reaching out, expressing their concern and asking for updates. So much so that I decided to re-activate my Facebook. Something I intended to walk away from indefinitely this past summer. My community certainly felt the quake, but we had no structural damage to report.
1,800 aftershocks have been recorded since Friday, Anchorage Daily News says. Eleven of them were recorded between 4.5 – 5.8 and 153 were over 3.0. Needless to say, it’s been an emotional past few days for those in the affected area. A 4.6 aftershock hit this Tuesday morning around 7 A.M. our time. Detail reports are available from the Alaska Earthquake Center. I still haven’t heard back from a few friends in the Wasilla-Palmer area but no fatalities have been reported to my knowledge. For more information, please click on one of the three sources linked within this paragraph. The third one includes a lot of good information on the 1964 earthquake.
Something I have learned these past few days is how quickly information can be outdated and how far secondhand information can be stretched. I had initially heard that we had at least two bridges collapse, yet official reports updated as of this morning have said nothing. I would like to apologize to any friends or family that were misinformed due to the information I helped spread. This has certainly been a learning experience. For this blog, I have made sure to do my research and properly link my sources. Many areas are still being inspected. Even today’s information could become outdated soon. Depending on when you read this, please disregard any outdated information and always go by the official sources.
“Where were you when the earthquake happened?” Has been a common question my friends and family in the lower 48 have asked me. It is also a common question we locals have been asking each other. For the verbal processors, it helps to talk about the biggest earthquake they have experienced since 2002. Alaska did have an earthquake earlier this year that registered 7.9 in January, but it was off the coast and caused no major damage that I can recall. I actually slept through that one and didn’t even know about it until students were talking about it at school. Those local to the Copper River Valley have been sharing their stories of the Denali earthquake in 2002. I have spent these past few days listening to people as they compared Friday’s quake to 2002 or even 1964. It is amazing how much detail one can recall during a natural disaster.
So where was I, you ask? I’ll wrap up today’s blog with my personal story…
I was in the Glenallen Elementary gym with the kindergarten class. I was substituting for one of the intensive aids that works with an autistic student all day. As our elementary students come off the buses, they head to the gym and line up until about 8:30 A.M. Then, one by one, the classes are dismissed and head to their rooms. We were the last ones in the gym still in line when the earthquake hit. As I began to feel the slight shake, I thought to myself, “Oh, this is one of our normal ones that will soon be over…” and initially thought nothing of it. However, the shaking soon intensified and we had nowhere to take cover. I looked up to see what the ceiling looked like to see a giant ball hanging from the chain (I still have no idea what that thing is for) about three feet in diameter began to sway. Surprisingly the kids all remained calm. Some of them soon asked, “What is this?” I responded, “This is an earthquake, remain calm.” The other aid who was older than I was also remained very calm. Shortly after saying that, the swaying stopped and we made our way to their classroom. We had them hide under the desks for any immediate aftershocks. Shortly after that, we continued to follow the earthquake protocol and evacuated the building. Once we were given the all clear, we headed back inside. It took a while to calm some of the little guys down afterwards, but we resumed our school day as normal. A few parents came to check on their children, or even pull them from school.
For the remainder of the day, I used any spare moment I could to not only check on my friends in the Mat-Su Valley where the epicenter was (Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla) but also to communicate to friends and family back home that I was okay. It is a blessing indeed that no one lost their life on Friday. As reports continue to come in, it seems that roads took the majority of the damage. It will be a long road ahead of us with the coldest part of Winter just around the corner. Many were panicked when it first happened, but we will be okay. Alaskans are resilient, caring, and always help one another out in a time of need.