ALASKA STRUGGLES To Recover from MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE
Less than a day after a 7.0 earthquake jolted Anchorage and the rest of southcentral Alaska, nearly all systems have been restored, with much of the damage remaining in transportation infrastructure, according to local officials.
“The Glenn Highway will continue to be the biggest challenge and the area of greatest concern for us,” Anchorage Municipal Manager Bill Falsey told reporters on Saturday.
The nearly 200-mile highway is the longest stretch of freeway in the state and was shutdown on Friday and reopened on Saturday afternoon with delays.
The quake hit about 8 miles north of Anchorage, the most populous city in the state, around 8:30 a.m. local time (12:30 p.m. ET), initially prompting a tsunami warning that was later canceled.
Falsey said that the quake produced nearly hundreds of aftershocks but the area’s building codes helped structures there sustain the hit.
“More than a dozen of the aftershocks have been greater than magnitude of 4 and five have been greater than a magnitude of 5,” said Falsey, citing the Alaska Earthquake Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“Every one of those in a normal course would have been a real ‘no kidding’ Alaska earthquake. So for a lot of people in town, this event has not ended,” he said.
Dozens of small temblors shook parts of Alaska Saturday, a day after a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake buckled roads, damaged buildings, knocked out power and frayed nerves, according to reports.
There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries following Friday’s quake near Anchorage and a 5.7 aftershock minutes later.
“It was probably a good 30 to 40 seconds of slow-motion disaster,” said Chris Riekena, an engineer with the Alaska Department of Transportation.
Riekena was on a freeway driving his seven-year-old son to school when the rumbling started and the road started splitting apart.
“Thankfully I pulled over when I did,” he said. “I’ve walked around the site enough over the last few hours that I’ve replayed that a few times.”
Power, water and communications have been restored in most of the areas affected, according to Falsey. In parts of Anchorage and other northern communities, officials cited 40 customers are without water. The major gas company, ENSTAR Natural Gas, also received more than 600 reports of gas leaks since the earthquake and is currently working to resolve them.
Local officials have issued a precautionary advisory for communities in the areas impacted to boil their water but they so far have not detected any water contamination.
As of Saturday afternoon, officials said that schools will remain closed until Tuesday but that local stores, hospitals and the municipal airport are open to the public.
“Anchorage is prepared for these types of emergency. People pulled together and followed the plans that were in place,” the city’s Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said on Saturday. “When people around the country see this, they’re going to want to do things the Anchorage way because Anchorage did things right.”
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