It’s time to prepare for another big earthquake


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It’s been 50 years since the Good Friday earthquake. Reminders of this abound. Commercials on television bring visual reminders. Units all over JBER and other groups across the city are participating in Alaska Shield, an exercise created around the anniversary to make sure that the city is prepared to handle a similar event.

I remember moving here and learning of the Good Friday earthquake. Hearing things like “9.2 magnitude” and “second largest measurable earthquake” put a bit of fear in my heart. Pictures at the Alaska Experience Theatre made the words seem more real.

The picture of the Army Navy Surplus Store still stands out in my mind. I’ve been to that store and it looks little different in the photograph than it does now. However, the road in front of the store in the picture speaks volumes about the power of the 1964 earthquake.

The first few months after we got here, I was determined to be prepared for the next big quake. When we bought our house, I made sure we included earthquake coverage to our homeowner’s insurance. I bought extra food home from the store to make sure we had enough in case of emergency. My husband stockpiled wood.

There were also some preparations that we talked about but never finished before my husband deployed. We meant to look into buying some cases of Meals Ready to Eat. We talked about buying a generator. We knew we should start an emergency water supply. Days went by fast and not everything got done. Then I was by myself, working hard to keep the house running, and there was little thought about preparing for more than the got-to-do’s of tomorrow.

When my husband redeployed, I had survived two summers filled with Alaskan shake, rattle, and roll. By that time, earthquakes were old hat. That big earthquake that had me scared the year before, well, that had to have just been a onetime thing that happened nearly 50 years ago.

Now that I can’t escape reminders of the anniversary, I think it may be time to re-think emergency preparedness.

My “emergency” canned foods have been tapped into to satisfy the ever-growing appetites of my children. I need to stock back up. I also really do want to look into MRE. They would be good in an emergency because they only require water for preparation. I can easily procure them at the commissary.

Water is also something we need to stock up on. It is recommended to have at least a three-day supply of water at a gallon of water per person per day.

Lastly, it may be time to do some earthquake drills. My children are used to the house shaking, but it’s been a while since we have discussed what to do in a big quake. It is important that they remember to stay away from windows, to “drop, cover, and hold on,” and to leave the house only when shaking has stopped.

I hope to never see a big earthquake, but I do want to learn from the past and be prepared.

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