|1964 Great Alaska Earthquake (20"x24") by Judy Wedemeyer|
South-central Alaska was struck by the largest earthquake in the United States and the second largest earthquake ever recorded in history with a magnitude of 9.2 on the Richter Scale. The quake occurred on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 at 5:36 pm Alaska time with a duration of 4 minutes, 38 seconds. Nine Anchorage residents died from the earthquake itself. A total of 139 deaths occurred from resulting tsunamis in Alaska as well as on the Oregon and California coast.
As a ten year old, I did not fully comprehend the catastrophic power of this earthquake since our family experienced relatively little destruction to our home from its wrath. Six hours after the earthquake I wrote a letter to my Godmother giving a first hand account of said event. The letter and a photo of our kitchen described in the letter are on my earthquake quilt. Although cupboards spilled their contents, our dinner remained on the table, however not a drop of coffee was left in any cups because it was all on the ceiling! Some photos were taken by my father, Mike Naumann, who worked for the City of Anchorage, Sign Shop and had access to areas otherwise closed to the public after the earthquake.
Anchorage suffered property loss, both commercial and residential yet the death toll was small in number due to being a Good Friday holiday and dinner time. Earthquakes can happen anywhere at anytime, but Alaska has several faults with a propensity of another high magnitude quake occurring in its future. Not if, but when... the ‘64 quake helps us remember our past and prepare for the future.