When I was 12, I lived in Anchorage, Alaska and we were there in the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. Luckily, we had just returned from a vacation to Florida the day before and my parents weren’t planning on going back to work till Monday. So, we were all 3 home, together when the earthquake hit around 5pm. It was measured as 8.5 on the Richter scale, but I understand it has since been ‘upgraded’ to 9.2. Each whole number increase (7.0, 8.0) represents a tenfold increase in amplitude. A 10.0 has never been recorded. The largest ever recorded was in Chile in May 1960 … 9.5.
What I remember …
- The telephone poles outside looked like they were mounted on top of ocean waves. Each pole would alternately sway from side to side, almost touching ground each way. The wires strung between them would snap taught when the poles on either end were on the top of their wave, leaning out and go slack when they were on the inside of the wave leaning in.
- We had a television on a rolling cart and it would roll all the way across the room – then back.
- We had a china ‘hutch’ cabinet that walked across the floor throwing plates and glasses as it went.
- My Dad positioned himself in a door frame with his back to one side and bracing his arms against the other side. My Mom stood in front of him and I was in front. My Dad’s braced arms held us in during the 5 minutes of riding our house like a bucking bronco.
- 5 minutes is an eternity!
- Our house sustained little damage – we were in the C Street valley which was pretty stable ground.
- We were evacuated for the night due to predictions of a tsunami coming up the valley. We spent the night in our car on higher ground.
- Friends who lived in the ritzy section called Turnagain got to ride their houses down the hill as the clay type of ground actually liquefied with the shaking of the earthquake
- There were not many deaths in Alaska because there weren’t many people. The greatest number of deaths from that earthquake was in Crescent City California due to the tsunami.
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