Anchorage is a sea of fire

It was a Saturday morning, March 27, 1964. 8 o’clock sharp. I turned on the TV, ready to settle in for a morning of cartoons ending with Sky King, which was not a cartoon. Well. That morning, I didn’t watch cartoons or Sky King or anything else. When our old black and white behemoth finished faarrrrin’ up, it proclaimed, “Anchorage is a sea of fire”. That would be Anchorage, Alaska, with a 9.2 magnitude earthquake. I screamed bloody murder. I don’t know why my parents weren’t up yet, usually they were by that time, but when my screams didn’t raise an immediate response, I ran upstairs and screamed right into their bedroom. Okay. We are all awake now. (Did I really scream? I may not be accurately remembering this.)

I was upset about this because my beloved cousin, whose blahg-name is Uber Kayak Woman, and her family were living in Anchorage while their dad Duke was stationed there in the Air Force. It was a while before we heard from them but it turned out that they were all okay and had some fantastic stories to tell. My cousin Grinch was in a hospital bed with a broken leg when it happened and I can still remember Duke (his pilot dad) talking about how his bed was “taxiing” around the room.

I have been in two earthquakes. I felt one here on the Planet Ann Arbor in 1985. I was hanging around at home and had been rather efficiently cleaning and dusting and vacuuming and I was changing my baby’s diaper and I could hear stuff rattling. I was thinking that a big truck was going up Maple, except that the rattling went on for a long time. Yes, it was an earthquake. In Michigan.

The other one? I was in California in 2007 visiting Lizard Breath, yes the baby referred to in the last paragraph. All grown up. I wrote a post about that earthquake and I’ll just link to it. The first night I was there, she ordered me to put my shoes next to my bed (her loverly couch). I tried to remember that but one night I forgot and, guess what, they were there when I woke up in the morning.

It seems like there have been a lot of earthquakes in the last few months. I have no words about Haiti. Rewind, anyone? Not possible and nothing I could say would make anything better. Folks were asking my San Francisco daughter on Twitter whether she felt the Baja earthquake. She didn’t. Others did. She was talking to someone in San Diego who felt it when it happened. (Do I have that right?) She and her housemates have ordered earthquake kits but I don’t think they are totally freaked out about earthquakes. (Er, I know somebody who has a *lot* of those buckets around and, yes, they can make good toilets if you need one. I might talk about that some other day. Hee hee hee.)

I absolutely love California and I love that my daughter lives there and I don’t spend my life being freaked out about potential earthquakes there. That said, whenever my clock radio wakes me up at 0-dark-30 with “earthquake” I wait with bated breath to hear where the earthquake happened.

4 Responses to “Anchorage is a sea of fire”

  1. Tonya Says:

    Nate’s in San Diego and he sent me a text message that he’d definitely felt it, but it wasn’t a Big Deal. I assume much of that has to do with building codes, but I also wonder if it just wasn’t as strong there as it was elsewhere. He seemed surprised that it was a 7.2.

    I don’t recall anything specific about the Alaska quake (although I do remember Sky King!). We had a big quake here in WA in 1965 and I remember that very clearly! It was 6.5 I think, and I was a 4th grader helping the principal put the flag on the flag pole just before school started. I remember sudden violent shaking and a sea of kids pouring away from the building where they’d been lined up to enter. I remember the principal put his arms around me to shield me from…whatever might fall, I guess. We’ve had a number of rather small quakes over the years that were memorable but no Big Deal, until the 2001 6.8 quake. THAT one was scary. And of course I was sitting on the toilet at work when it hit, plunged into total complete darkness… We had a mess here at home with books and CDs and clutter spilled all over the floor, but no major damage. I felt really lucky because my china cabinet doors had sprung open and I had some special crystal and china and Limoges items perched half-way out — but nothing fell out! I was amazed!

    I’m thinking an earthquake kit would be a very good idea. I keep putting off gathering up all the stuff for one, but I think a pre-made one would be the ticket.

  2. Aimee Nassoiy Says:

    I love hearing your memories of the ’64 quake.
    I remember the first long night in Anchorage, when my family and many others were spending the night at a school on high ground, just in case a tsunami should come. Which thankfully did not happen.
    Those minutes/moments of earthquake were like being tossed about at sea, for a long time.
    Then long months of martial law, yes soldiers with rifles guarding our neighborhood against looting, as repairs dragged on.
    Sewage lines were broken, so we used a port a potty in the garage with plastic sack catchment, outfitted with rubber bands. When the rubber bands inevitably broke you just waited for the offending matter to freeze on the garage floor, and shovel it up.
    Most of all I remember the whole woods at the end of the block missing, slipped beneath the waters of Cook Inlet, and the inconceivable re-building of mansions of the remaining bluff edge just four years later. We humans have short memories apparently.
    I wonder what an earthquake kit entails?

  3. Margaret Says:

    I don’t remember the Alaska quake, but they one in 1965 in WA was scary. My mom made me run outside. (OK, she’s never been good in a crisis and my dad was at school) The 2001 quake was noticeable and freaky but nothing to compare to those big ones. I shrieked and ran around the house when I turned on the TV and realized that 9-11 had happened. (Ashley came into our bedroom to tell us a plane had hit the World Trade Center; she heard it on her radio) I assumed it was a small plane. So, I guess I’m just as excitable as my mom!!

  4. Kathy Farnell Says:

    I do remember the 1985 earthquake. I also have a friend that lives (lived?) in Tanzania,CA when an earthquake hit there in the 90’s. Have never heard from her since… I don’t think of earthquakes too much here in Michigan, but I do put together a Tornado Kit and listen for the warnings etc… It is that time of the year.