Saturday 31 March 2012

Anchorage, Alaska Earthquake

"The noise the earthquake made is rarely mentioned, but I can vividly remember the loud rumble which sounded like a freight train at high speed. In fact I thought the cause of it all was a freight train coming out of the ground from below the apartment.  The kitchen was a mess with all of the jars of food and condiments broken on the floor. All of my brothers' model airplanes had come down from their perches as well as books, figurines, etc. My brothers' school, Government Hill Elementary was destroyed, but as noted was closed that day for Good Friday.  With no electricity or heat, that night we gathered with other families on our living room floor and slept in sleeping bags. It was a great adventure for a 4 year old, but tremors and fires in the fuel storage area nearby... kept the adults worried for days." (David Kanzler, Anchorage, Alaska, 1964)


On Good Friday, March 27, 1964, North America's biggest earthquake, and the world's second biggest earthquake, hit Anchorage, Alaska.  Registering 9.2 on the Richter scale, the quake lasted almost 4 minutes and could be felt as far away as Prince Rupert, 800 miles to the south.  Post-quake landslides, tsunamis and fires led to more deaths and property damage in not only Anchorage but other cities like Whittier, Seward and Kodiak.  Property damage, assessed  at 300 million in 1964 dollars, was sustained by homes and businesses and schools; the five-story JC Penny store was levelled.  Property damage was also recorded in B.C., Oregon and California.  Aftershocks, felt as far away as Hawaii and Japan  lasted for one year after the initial earthquake.  Sadly, nine people died directly from the earthquake followed by 115 from tsunamis, floods and landslides resulting from the quake. 

Photo of Fourth Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska on March 27, 1964 courtesy


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