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Facing our earthquakes together

  • Author: Chuck Kopp
    | Opinion
  • Updated: December 13, 2018
  • Published December 13, 2018

A home in Eagle River is badly damaged Saturday morning, Dec. 1, 2018. The house, which was partly built on fill, suffered severe problems during a strong earthquake that shook southcentral Alaska on Friday. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

On Friday, Nov. 30, at 8:29 a.m., I was on the fourth floor of the Legislative Information Office meeting with one of my coworkers and two constituents when the building violently trembled on its foundation. And then it shook again, with much greater force. The next 20 seconds seemed like two minutes as ceiling panels dropped, the floor heaved and furniture toppled. We held on to each other, braced ourselves and prayed, silently calling out to the One who is omnipotent. In that moment, all sense of self-sufficiency was gone. The quake subsided and we were shaken, humbled and grateful.

Over the past week we have all cheered the now nationally renowned work of our Department of Transportation and Public Facilities personnel as they worked 24/7 to repair critical roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. The social media posts of their work is the stuff of legends. It appears they do the difficult immediately, while the impossible takes a couple days.

Countless more stories have surfaced of heroic work by good people quickly coming together to watch over each other, and sacrifice their time and resources to help restore their neighbors' homes, businesses and houses of worship.

As Alaska enters the season of Christmas and Hanukkah, which tell the greatest stories of love and rescue in all of human history, we have so much to be thankful for. We faced a powerful and damaging earthquake, yet were spared much greater loss which could have easily engulfed us. And I am reminded that we are still facing other, life-shaking earthquakes.

We have neighbors, friends and strangers all around us who are enduring personal and emotional earthquakes - the loss of health, loved ones, housing, work and financial stability. All leading to a sense of despair, desperation, abandonment and questions. “Does anyone hear my SOS? Will I survive? If I do, will it matter to anyone? Am I too broken?”

I remember, as a young boy, falling out of our family fishing boat into the icy waters of Bristol Bay during a storm. I cried out “Daddy! Help me!” My father quickly and unceremoniously yanked me by my hood out of the water and back up on the deck. I thank God he was watching and listening.

Am I watching and listening? Am I ready and willing to step in and rescue my neighbor? I hope so, I pray I am. We are the ones that demonstrate how far God’s grace and love can reach.

There is no individual brokenness that doesn’t affect all of us as a whole. And the truth is, we all need rescue, because we all fall down.

Let’s face our earthquakes together.

Rep. Chuck Kopp was elected to the Alaska State House in 2016 to represent House District 24 in South Anchorage.

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