Alaska not that rat­tled by 7.0 quake


AN­CHOR­AGE, ALASKA (AP) — The mag­ni­tude 7.0 earth­quake that rat­tled Alaska’s largest city cracked roads and col­lapsed high­way ramps, but there were no re­ports of wide­spread cat­a­strophic dam­age or col­lapsed build­ings.

There’s a good rea­son for that. A dev­as­tat­ing 1964 Alaska earth­quake — the most pow­er­ful on record in the United States — led to stricter build­ing codes that helped struc­tures with­stand the shift­ing earth Fri­day.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to the peo­ple of Alaska for be­ing re­ally pre­pared for this earth­quake,” U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey Geo­physi­cist Paul Caruso said Satur­day. “Be­cause a mag­ni­tude 7.0 in a city like that, you know, it could have been sig­nif­i­cantly worse.”

Gov. Bill Walker said some­times peo­ple, in­clud­ing him­self, grouse about strin­gent build­ing codes. But he’s “re­ally glad” they were in place as he only had mi­nor wa­ter dam­age at his home.

“Build­ing codes mean some­thing,” he said Fri­day.

The quake was cen­tered about 7 miles north of An­chor­age, which has a pop­u­la­tion of about 300,000. Peo­ple ran from their of­fices or took cover un­der desks. A 5.7 af­ter­shock ar­rived within min­utes, fol­lowed by a se­ries of smaller quakes.

The two big back-to-back quakes knocked items off shelves, dis­rupted power, broke store win­dows and briefly trig­gered a tsunami warn­ing for is­lands and coastal ar­eas south

of the city. Walker is­sued a dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared an emer­gency, al­low­ing the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to co­or­di­nate dis­as­ter re­lief.

There were no re­ports of deaths or se­ri­ous in­juries.

Still, af­ter­shocks Satur­day con­tin­ued

to fray ner ves, with peo­ple wor­ry­ing about be­ing caught in more mas­sive shak­ers.

“They’re dis­turb­ing, and I’m not putting any­thing away that could fall un­til they calm down,” Ran­dall Ca­vanugh, an An­chor­age at­tor­ney, said fol­low­ing a rest­less night at home. “I kept wak­ing up.”

By mid-morn­ing, there had been about 550 af­ter­shocks, in­clud­ing 11 with mag­ni­tudes of 4.5 or greater, Caruso said.

The af­ter­shocks should be weaker and less fre­quent in the com­ing days, but of­fi­cials can’t say for sure when they’ll stop, he said.

An­chor­age Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said the ex­tent of dam­age was “rel­a­tively small” con­sid­er­ing the scale of Fri­day’s earth­quake. He also cred­ited build­ing codes for min­i­miz­ing struc­ture dam­age.

“In terms of a dis­as­ter, I think it says more about who we are than what we suf­fered,” he said Satur­day at a press brief­ing, adding that An­chor­age was pre­pared for such an emer­gency.

“Peo­ple pulled to­gether. We fol­lowed the plans that were in place. We looked af­ter one an­other. And when peo­ple around the countr y and around the world look at this, they’re go­ing to say, ‘We want to do things in the An­chor­age way be­cause An­chor­age did this right,” Berkowitz said.

Af­ter the first earth­quake, Alaska’s largest hos­pi­tal ac­ti­vated its in­ci­dent com­mand cen­ter, but the trickle of pa­tients into the emer­gency room at Prov­i­dence Alaska Med­i­cal Cen­ter in An­chor­age was more like a nor­mal work­day and not a mass ca­su­alty event. The in­juries were de­scribed as mi­nor, and there were no pa­tients with life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions.

“The flow of pa­tients into the emer­gency depart­ment was sim­i­lar to a typ­i­cal Mon­day,” hos­pi­tal spokesman Mikal Can­field said Satur­day. “It wasn’t a sit­u­a­tion where there was a mass rush of peo­ple.”


This aerial photo shows dam­age on Vine Road, south of Wasilla, Alaska, af­ter earth­quakes Fri­day, Nov. 30. Back-to-back earth­quakes mea­sur­ing 7.0 and 5.7 shat­tered high­ways and rocked build­ings Fri­day in An­chor­age and the sur­round­ing area, send­ing peo­ple run­ning into the streets and briefly trig­ger­ing a tsunami warn­ing for is­lands and coastal ar­eas south of the city.

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