School had started and we were preparing for winter. We always stock up with food and emergency supplies in case of some catastrophe during the winter. Alaska is a land of extremes and survival is always a concern even if you live in a city. Though we have supermarkets and Home Depots in Anchorage you still have to rely on shipments getting through. So we stock up when the supplies are plentiful. It takes some planning and thinking ahead but after some time here we learn what you need most and how much to stock. It’s a time honored activity that marks the end of summer and a preparation for winter.
It is a well known fact that the ships stop running the first week of November and most of the stores have all the shipments in for the whole year by then. Otherwise things must come in by air. So stocking up is done both commercially and personally.
I had done all the preparation I could for winter and was satisfied. Aron was in school and my husband was at work. I had finished my household chores and found myself at home alone and with some time on my hands. All the windows were open and there was a crispness in the air. I laid down on the couch with a good book to get some reading time in. As I lay there I heard a noise that sounded like a freight truck loaded with some kind of metal barreling right towards our home. It was a loud noise that was traveling faster than I could react. At the crescendo of this noise was a loud bang. It sounded like a canon had gone off. Then this was immediately followed by a violent shaking that lasted about two minutes. Knick knacks on the fireplace mantle began to slide and dance to the edge and fall off and crash to the floor. I tried to get up off the couch and make my way to the front door only to be thrown backwards and back down on the couch. We were having the most violent earthquake I had been through to date.
I knew that I needed to get out of our building in case it collapsed. I kept trying to make it to the door but to no avail. The shaking was too violent. My heart was in my throat and the shaking wasn’t just in the earth’s crust now. I was shaking throughout my body too. Fear had a grip on me!! Finally, the shaking stopped and I bolted for the door. My dogs were stunned and crouched low to the ground and followed me out the door. It was eerily quiet outside. I stood there for a few minutes not knowing what to do next. There was a crackling noise off in the distance. The silence was deafening. I went back inside cautiously. I could hear the beeping noise of the phone going off. We were losing power and cable. There was no Internet either. I tried to power up but it was no use. I got my cell phone out and called my son’s cell phone but it went straight to messages. Either his phone was off or was disabled. I couldn’t tell which it was. I called my husband’s work phone and he picked up. Everything was fine at his building so now I was going to concentrate on finding my son. The school phone was busy. Apparently many parents were trying to call at the same time.
I tried the Internet again. It powered up this time. The phone began to reboot and beep at the same time. I entered the web address for the earthquakes in Alaska but the website had crashed. I logged into Facebook and posted about the earthquake. Hopefully, someone would be able to get the word out as I couldn’t get long distance service and my cell still wasn’t working. Time was creeping by. It seemed as if time had come to a screeching halt.
Forty five minutes passed and finally, my son came walking through the front door. He didn’t have cell service but got a ride home and was no worse for the wear. What a relief!! I checked Facebook again and had tons of replies to my post. I quickly let people know we were OK. Someone in another part of the world was able to access the Alaskan website for earthquakes and posted that the quake was a 4.9 but the epicenter was only 10 miles from Anchorage. This was why the shaking was so violent. I had been through stronger intensities but never one with the epicenter this close. I was definitely getting a lesson in all the particulars that go into the strength of an earthquake. I didn’t know it then but there would be more to come….and not to far in the distance.