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Did you feel the earthquake today?

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For what it's worth:

Here in Alaska earthquakes are fairly common. Of course there are those uneasy moments when we stop and pause wondering if we need to duck and cover. We know any minute can bring "a big one". Most of the time we get by with something at about 4 or 5 something. They are never taken for granted however.

I was the oldest of five children raised on a 125 acre homestead. Our homestead log cabin (no electricity) was located on 2 mile long lake and that lake bordered the gravel spur highway that we went back and forth to the town of Kenai 20 miles away.  We often went across the lake in the wintertime by dogsled to access our cabin even though there was a mile and a half of ingress road to our cabin as well coming off that spur highway. The lake was shorter and of course being frozen flat it was easier travel. There was usually 3-5 feet of snow on our ingress road and we didn't have the money in those days to keep it plowed so would just park our two cars at the end of it and use the lake to get home.

My dad being raised in Alaska himself, and being half Alaska Native (Yupik) had been raised around sled dogs and dog team travel all his life; when he was drafted into the Army during WWII, he was put into the Army search and rescue division and worked in conjunction with another outfit called the Alaska Scouts. When he and my mom (from Minnesota) met, she was an aircraft dispatcher at Elmendorf Airforce Base and worked coordinating military aircraft going back and forth to the Aleution Chain (1942-45). She was from a middle class family and had a dad who was in the Minnesota state senate. It was her love of adventure that brought her to Alaska after she graduated from the U of Minn. in 1938.

She asked dad for a dog team ride after practically having to beg him and when it finally happened the ride lasted fifty years and brought them down from Anchorage to the homestead in 1953 where I was raised. Therefore, with my dad's background with dog teams and his woodsman skills, building a cabin and using dogs as transportation was a natural fit.

Reel forward 11 years to the 1964 earthquake. All five of us had been born by that time. We were just arriving at our driveway coming home from Good Friday Mass. Dad had just hitched up the team and had taken off with my two sisters and a brother in the dog sled. My mom and another brother had just gotten to driveway in our 1963 VW bug where mom pulled in and shut off the engine. It began rolling backwards down the slight incline of the driveway, she put on the emergency brake and it kept rolling back. It was at that point she looked up at the trees and they were waving back and forth but there was no wind! It was at that point that the bug went into a snowbank and she realized we were having a huge earthquake. When my brother and I got out of the car we could not stand up and thought it quite funny; I was 9 years old and he was 6. We looked down the highway and saw fifty feet of road fall away into creek that had culvert running under the gravel highway. 

Mom immediately got a gripped look on her face as she thought about my and dad and her three children crossing the lake on the dog sled. We made our way down to lake's edge and the ice was all broken up in chunks overlapping each other. She yelled in desperation for dad and thank goodness he answered from a distant bank on the lake. Dad said he was okay and so were my siblings and the dogs. His sense of what was happening is a bit macabre. In 1964, we were in the midst of the Cold War. Therefore when the quake hit he had thought Anchorage had been bombed. He said it was a very strange sensation because the ice started breaking up all around them and water was gushing up like water falls from a leaking garden hose around all the cracks. At that point he said the dogs just sat and did not move an inch, waiting out the quake as the ice continued to break up in chunks. Then when it was over, he was able to get up to the lead dog and pull it as well guide it to shore all the while breaking trail with snow shoes.

After we got together we all had to walk in the road with Dad and I and another sister breaking trail. We finally got home around 2 in the morning and all that had happened at the cabin was a broken coffee which had fallen off its hook from one of the log purlins. For four of us children though, we came down with the hard measles the next day and three days later we had to be evacuated by army helicopter to the hospital in Anchorage. We spent seven days there recovering. Anchorage looked like it had been bombed with all the broken up streets and shattered buildings.

What a nightmare that earthquake was!





That's one hell of a story. Glad you survived to tell it!!!!!




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