The police chief says parts of a scenic highway that heads from Anchorage toward mountains and glaciers have sunken and “completely disappeared” following the earthquake (Nov. 30)
Dozens of smaller temblors shook parts of Alaska on Saturday as officials in Anchorage continued recovery efforts after experiencing the most significant earthquake to impact the state’s biggest city in decades.
No deaths or serious injuries were reported in Friday’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake, but the Anchorage area suffered serious damage from the quake that sliced opened roads, knocked out power and damaged buildings.
Anchorage utility companies are scrambling to restore power to about 30,000 customers.
Enstar Natural Gas Company said it was dispatching additional workers from its Michigan affiliate to help with recovery and assist the company as it goes about surveying 3,488 miles of pipeline for leaks.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, who is set to leave office Monday, says it would take take weeks to repair roadways damaged by the earthquake.
“This is much more significant than that,” said Walker, who issued a state disaster declaration.
Walker said members of the staff governor-elect, Mike Dunleavy, were already involved in the earthquake response.
President Trump on Friday also issued an emergency declaration for Alaska, which paves the way for federal agencies to help with relief efforts in the area.
Alaska averages an earthquake about every 12 minutes, with more large quakes than the other 49 states combined. The vast majority of the quakes “are tiny pops and creaks in the earth,” Alaska state seismologist Mike West said.
Anchorage has been hit hard before. A 1964 earthquake that registered 9.2, the largest ever in the U.S. and the second-largest ever recorded, caused extensive damage to the city and resulted in 129 deaths.
West said Friday’s earthquake was the “most significant” to strike Anchorage since the 1964 quake.
“There is quite a bit of damage across Anchorage,” West said in a Facebook Live interview. “I’m not aware of large-scale building collapses, but I think it’s safe to say there are thousands of homes and businesses and buildings that were damaged in some fashion, be it a deck that slid downhill, a cracked foundation, a gas line disconnected from the house.”
The U.S. Geological Survey said that aftershocks are expected to continue for some time but projected there is a low probability, about 4 percent, of another earthquake equal or greater than magnitude 7.0. There federal agency said there is a 27 percent change of a magnitude 6.0 or greater.
The big quake struck 7 miles north of Anchorage, a city of about 300,000, about 30 miles underground.
Alaska has been hit by a number of powerful quakes over 7.0 in recent decades, including a 7.9 last year southeast of Kodiak Island. It is rare, though, for a quake this big to strike so close to the state’s most populous area.
While Alaskans are accustomed to earthquakes, Friday’s temblor was emotionally jarring.
Brenekia Horne of Muldoon, a major neighborhood on the east side of Anchorage, said as the earth shook Friday morning she thought the end had come.
“Death instantly crossed my mind and I started praying,” said Horne, 24. She said she was dropping her son off at day care when the earthquake occurred. “I was having a conversation with my son’s babysitter when it hit, mid-conversation. At first, I froze. The house started shaking, all the decorations fell off the wall, and the TV tipped over.”
Contributing: Associated Press and USA TODAY’s Chris Woodyard and Dalvin Brown