March 28, 2014

I was only nine years old at the time, but I remember distinctly the Good Friday earthquake that hit Alaska back in 1964. For some reason it has stayed in my head since that time; whenever there’s some article or cable network special on it I find myself attracted to it like a moth to a porch light. The historic nature of it, even fifty years to the day, still boggles the mind:

The earthquake struck at 5:36 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on Good Friday. When the first shaking hit, many parents were in the kitchen, fixing dinner. For more than 4 minutes, the earth buckled and lurched all across southern Alaska. Few people returned home to their meals that night. In Anchorage, the ground cracked open and giant fissures swallowed children whole, killing them in front of their siblings. Landslides launched tsunamis that swept away coastal villages before the shaking even ended. In Seward, spilled oil slicked the water and caught fire. When the earthquake-triggered tsunami hit minutes later, the wave was blazing. “It was an eerie thing to see — a huge tide of fire washing ashore,” survivor Gene Kirkpatrick told National Geographic magazine in 1964.

In 50 years, no earthquake since has matched the power of the March 27, 1964, Great Alaska earthquake. Now ranked a magnitude 9.2, the second-largest ever recorded, the earthquake radically transformed the young state. Important coastal ports, roads and rail lines were destroyed. The liquefied ground in Anchorage led to the country’s strictest seismic building codes (now outpaced by California). President Lyndon Johnson ordered a comprehensive scientific study of the earthquake.

9.2. Isn’t that amazing? It just goes to show that as much as we humans think we know everything and, through our own pathetic egos, think we can control everything, the fact of the matter is we really have little control over anything. You’re riding high, thinking you’ve got all your BINGO squares covered, and then you get the results of a medical test, or lose your job, or Ma Nature conjures up something that makes you realize just how small and petty your view of the world and yourself has been. We live our lives blissfully ignorant (sometimes willingly so) of the chaos and disaster lurking around the next corner. still, you can’t live your life in fear of that other shoe dropping – that wouldn’t be much of an existence. You just have to live every day God has given you as if it were your last, appreciating everything around you: God’s creation, friends, family – whatever it is you hold dear. And never forgetting it can be taken away in an instant.

The folks who experienced the Great Alaska Quake of 1964, and, most recently, the folks up in Washington state, know that better than most.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:12 | Comments (0)
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