Remembering the 7.1: How to prepare for an earthquake

On Nov. 30, 2018, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Anchorage and its residents to the core. The epicenter was seven miles north of the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center

The earthquake tore up roads, including Minnesota Drive and Vine Road, and caused damage to homes, but no deaths occurred, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center’s 2018 Year in Review.

Subcontractors replace ceiling tiles in the UAA/APU Consortium Library exactly one week after the Nov. 30 earthquake that shook the campus in 2018. Photo courtesy of James Evans via the Green and Gold website.

Many UAA students remember their exact location at the time of the event. Kiara Vincente said it was hard to forget.

“[I woke up to] the best alarm in the world,” Vicente said. “When I went into my living room, every single mug I owned was destroyed. The worst part for me that day was not getting coffee,” Vicente said.

Yeng Hang, a UAA student and Taco Bell manager, was at work prepping food for the day. She and her employees didn’t know what to make of the initial sound until the earthquake actually hit.

“We heard the train sound and it just kept getting louder and louder. There is a lot of heavy kitchen equipment at work and it all started moving like crazy,” Hang said.

Zoya Hang, Yeng’s family member, is also a student at UAA and was at home at the time of the earthquake. She was surprised at the magnitude of the earthquake, saying she waited for it to stop, but it just kept going.

An Anchorage home after the Nov. 30, 2018 earthquake shows broken items and damage caused by the quake. Photo by Chrstina Swayney.
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“I was at home, changing my clothes and the room started shaking. I thought ‘oh, it’s just another earthquake,’ but then it just got bigger and bigger, and I realized this was a huge earthquake,” Zoya Hang said.

The top of a glass stove is left destroyed after the Nov. 30, 2018 earthquake. Photo by Christina Swayney.

There were a multitude of aftershocks following the initial earthquake. The Alaska Earthquake Center recorded “3,000 aftershocks in the first week, and around 6,000 by the end of the year. Out of these, six had magnitudes of 5 or greater,” according to its 2018 Year in Review.

The Municipality of Anchorage website has a full list of recommendations of what to do in the event of an earthquake. One essential for earthquake preparedness is a disaster supply kit, with items such as water, food and basic first aid materials.

Another essential, according to the Municipality of Anchorage, is a Family Emergency Plan. In this plan, the municipality advises that groups agree on a set location to converge in the event of an emergency, especially if members of the group don’t have access to phone or internet communication.

During an earthquake, “drop, cover and hold on,” according to the Municipality of Anchorage website. Those inside during the event are advised to take cover under a heavy desk or against an inside wall, away from windows or objects that may fall. If outside, it is recommended to find a clear area away from power lines and buildings and sit down for stability. For people driving, try to avoid underpasses and overpasses.

After an earthquake, there are several more recommended steps to take, including checking for hazards such as gas leaks, water leaks, broken glass and sewage breaks and evacuate if the building might be unsafe.

Updates on earthquake activity, tsunami information and general public safety can be found at KFQD 750 AM. For more information about earthquake preparedness, visit the USGS Municipality of Anchorage website or The Alaska Earthquake Center Facebook page.