Shaken: Earthquake a reminder to be prepared, help others

It was a wake-up call — in some cases, literally.

At 8:29 a.m. Friday, Anchorage was hit by an earthquake described by residents as the most severe since the Good Friday earthquake of 1964. That quake, the most devastating in Alaska history and the second-strongest ever recorded worldwide, still lives on in the memories of Alaskans who experienced it. On Friday, we got a reminder.

We were lucky. The earthquake, epicentered directly across Cook Inlet from downtown Anchorage, struck closer than any quake of similar magnitude since the city was established. Hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors were frightened but for the most part unharmed. There was extensive property damage, but nothing like the carnage of 1964, when Fourth Avenue swallowed cars and buildings as the ground below the city liquefied.

In the days, weeks and months to come, life in Southcentral Alaska will return to normal, as we pick up what’s broken and fix pieces of infrastructure compromised by the earthquake. Some of that cleanup will be done by the city and state, but much will be done in our homes, as we sweep up broken glass, repair cracked drywall and attempt to locate pets that ran away during the quake. Your neighbors may well need your help; if you’re in a position to offer it, please do so. Be thorough and take care as you pick up what’s broken — most injuries resulting from earthquakes take place after the fact, when people cut themselves on broken glass, strain to pick up heavy fallen items or trip and fall on debris. Shards of glass or ceramic too small to be seen easily can cut you or your pets if you step on them. Be careful.

And though the effects of the earthquake were serious, there is much to be thankful for that they were not worse. The quake should serve as a reminder to be prepared as best we can for natural disasters of all kinds. On a municipal and state level, that means making sure our roads, buildings and utilities can withstand the stresses of events like this. On a personal level, it means preparing for interruptions in services and supply lines. Keep several days' worth of clean water on hand, as well as a good supply of food that can withstand relatively long periods without refrigeration. If you need electricity for heat or other essential services, a backup generator is a good investment.

Most of all, the earthquake was a reminder of how much we depend on one another, and how much easier it is to deal with hardships when we face them together. Check on your friends and neighbors to make sure they’re all right, and offer whatever help you can manage. Alaska made it through the Good Friday earthquake, and it will recover from this one stronger than ever. All it will take is our work to make sure it happens.

The views expressed here are those of the Anchorage Daily News, as expressed by its editorial board, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. Current editorial board members are Ryan Binkley, Andy Pennington, Julia O’Malley, Tom Hewitt and Andrew Jensen. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser.


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Anchorage Daily News editorial board

Editorial opinions are by the editorial board, which welcomes responses from readers. Board members are ADN President Ryan Binkley, Publisher Andy Pennington and Opinion Editor Tom Hewitt. The board operates independently from the ADN newsroom. To submit feedback, a letter or longer commentary for consideration, email commentary@adn.com.