Earthquake and Aftershocks

Preparing for an emergency versus living thru one. I’ve always known in every state that I’ve lived what Mother Nature could do. Depending on the state you most likely have either, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes. Until you live thru one of Mother Nature’s natural disasters you aren’t always 100% sure how to prepare for them. I’ve been through all 4. Though each one is different, they all have a similarity. They are violent and you should have an emergency bag prepared. If nothing ever happens and you never need that emergency bag then that is wonderful. How horrible would it be if you are caught in one of the more violent Mother Nature’s Natural Disasters and you weren’t prepared?

I’ve been in Alaska on and off for 8 years. Yet, never did I think about how I should prepare for an earthquake. I knew the basics. Though I never really thought about it. I did know that if there is an earthquake you should get under a table or a desk, you should stay inside (unless you live in an area where you don’t have to worry about shrapnel from buildings/cars/electric wires won’t affect you), and the most stable part of your home is standing in the door frame (though not recommended). Beyond that…what? What would happen if once the ground stopped shaking if your home was in shambles, there was no electricity, no cell service, you couldn’t get to your vehicle, you couldn’t get to the the store, you were injured, all the radio stations were quiet? Really, what would you do? These are questions I never really seriously thought about. Sure I knew that there could be an end of the world scenario and I’d never be 100 percent prepared for that; however, what if it was a Natural Disaster and not the end of the world and I wasn’t prepared. I’ve been thru tornadoes/floods/mudslides/hurricanes; however, nothing prepared me for November 30, 2018 earthquake in Anchorage, AK. A large part of this was because it was the first natural disaster that I had to deal with by myself. I didn’t have the safety net I was used to having. This was also the first natural disaster that affected me directly and went on for days…not just minutes or hours. It was also the first time that I truly felt like I had no control.

Here’s my story: I was in my apartment getting ready for work. I was about to put on my shoes and leave when my apartment started making a lot of noise. It sounded like a train was coming through my apartment and then the shaking started. It wasn’t the first Earthquake I have felt; however, I quickly realized that this time was different. It was so incredibly loud and the shaking was much more violent. I felt like I was inside a snow globe being shaken. Since I’m still having trouble with moving due to a broken leg back in June, I couldn’t get under my table or desk (neither are very sturdy, so I’m not sure how much protection they could actually offer) and I couldn’t get far due to the shaking so the apartment hallway or outside was not an option. I wound up standing and bracing myself in one of my door frames. I’m not sure how long it lasted. Times seemed to slow down and so many thoughts were going thru my head. Mainly me asking God to make it stop. Those that were closer to the epicenter of the Earthquake shook longer than those that lived farther away. I kept hearing things rattle, shake, fall, and break. When it finally stopped shaking I headed to the kitchen to see the damage. Physically the building I live in was fine. However, there were some mugs and Izzie drinks that fell and broke. I cleaned the glass and wiped up the spilled drinks. Knowing I had to get to work I mainly cleaned up liquid. I would learn that this earthquake was a 7.0. Take a look at all the Alaska Earthquake 2018 videos on Youtube. Read the Anchorage Daily News to see some of the many news articles on the Earthquake and aftershocks. Or check out some of these Facebook Sites: Alaska Earthquake Center  or Alaska Earthquake.

As I was doing this we got an Aftershock that was over a 5. Again I got into a door frame and wondered how long it would last and how much damage it would caused. Once that aftershock ended I headed out the door to work. Once I got there I learned that work was canceled and that we were all being sent home to check on the damages done to our own homes. I didn’t like the idea of heading back home…I was by myself. A friend happened to call and she decided she was going to come and meet me at my apartment. I sat in my car listening to the only radio station that was still in operation where I started learning about the damages and what to expect with aftershocks. Little did anyone realize that within the next 2 days we would experience almost 2,000 aftershocks. When my friend arrived we went out for coffee. We spent most the day together. However, at one point she had to go and check out her place. So I went home and ran a tub full of water and began boiling water on the stovetop. After a natural disaster rarely is water okay to drink. My boss texted me to remind me to boil water which I greatly appreciated. There is always the likelihood that if water wasn’t already shut off it easily could be. I boiled a few gallons of water, responded to friends and family across the world to let them know I was fine and I’d keep them updated. That night I was invited to stay the night at a friends apartment. At first I said no; however, I changed my mind for two reasons. One was because an earthquake was bad enough, however, all the aftershocks were unnerving and I didn’t want to be by myself. The other reason is that I’ve always heard that there is strength in numbers. So I headed over to her place. I’m glad I did.

I never took photos…I was a bit distracted and was more concerned on how the rest of Alaska was faring then documenting what I could see. The following day I headed back to my place. As I was driving it seemed that everyone was back to their normal lives. Within 72 hours all our roads were temporarily fixed. Overall I fared extremely well compared to a lot of people. The aftershocks were still going, however, they were shorter and it seemed like less were happening.

I’ve had a lot of experiences; however, this was one of the most terrifying. Earthquakes give no warnings, I was on my own with no one around, I had zero control over the outcome, it was unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and the aftershocks put my nerves on edge. It also got me thinking…how prepared am I really? The chances of another 7 in the near future isn’t very likely; however, it is possible. That first day I threw together some additional food and water into a bag. However, over the following days I began looking into how to prepare an emergency kit and what should be in them. You can buy some pre-made emergency bag…or you can put one together. I took a look at the Red Cross Website. I have a lot of the items already due to my hiking / camping / traveling adventures I have gone on. However, there were a few items I never thought of that I think are absolutely brilliant. 1. The hand crank / solar charging radio that recieves AM/FM/NOAA weather channels, a flashlight, flashing beacon, and phone charger all built into one. I like the idea that I can stay connected to the world and know what is going on, being able to have a light, a phone charger for quick calls that doesn’t need to be plugged into a wall when electricity goes out, and I don’t need to pack / replace batteries every few years. 2. Waterproof tinder. 3. A blanket/bivvy/sleeping bag that will keep you warm and dry and will reflect back 70 to 90% of your radiated body heat back to you.

Things every kit should have: A first aid kit, a multitool, food, water, blanket, radio, flashlight, change of clothes (warmer clothes), a poncho or rain jacket, a decent pair of shoes, a charger for your phone, and any other items you find important to surviving. Or you can split the times into two bags. I have a small/string backpack I can grab with the essentials and then a larger duffel type bag that has a few additional items. I store it nearby my door for easy access. Some put them in their vehicles. Throwing together an emergency bag in the middle of the emergency will most likely result in a panic, forgetting something, or not being able to access the items you would need. It’s also not a bad idea to put some of these items in your vehicle for winter travel and winter emergencies.

A person will never be completely ready for a Natural Disaster, especially one they have no warning about. However, being as prepared as possible will help ease your mind and nerves when an emergency happens.

A month later and Alaska is still rocking and rolling. Not as many aftershocks as the first few days; however, Mother Nature isn’t ready to let up quite yet. Scientists say it can last from a few months to a few years. Lets hope it’ll continue to let up and stop with the aftershocks here soon.