South Peninsula residents recount 7.1 shaker

Broken wine bottle in Safeway liquor store (Photo By Perry Lynn, Carrs/Safeway Grocery Manager)
Broken wine bottle in Safeway liquor store (Photo By Perry Lynn, Carrs/Safeway Grocery Manager)

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook the state Sunday morning. The quake originated 60 miles west of Homer. Southern peninsula residents say they saw minimal damage.

The tremors started about 1:30 in the morning. Michael West, the State Seismologist for the Alaska Earthquake Center, says the quake’s epicenter was about 75 miles below the earth’s surface.

“Because it’s deep it also means it can be felt across a very wide area. We have reports from across all of southern Alaska. Valdez, Fairbanks, of course throughout the Kenai and Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley,” said West.

The earthquake had a long reach, but considering the 7.1 magnitude, it doesn’t seem to have done a lot of damage on the southern peninsula.

Rebekah Dalke owns Oodalolly, a home décor and furniture store in Homer. She was in bed when the earthquake hit.

Rebekah Dalke (Photo by Quinton Chandler, KBBI)
Rebekah Dalke (Photo by Quinton Chandler, KBBI)

“Yeah it was like a dream. I have two kids so I ran to see if they were ok. They know they’re supposed to just stay in bed, but this one just kept getting

Dalke says her family was fine. A couple of things fell over but the house made it through. Next she had to check her store.

“There was a lot of things on the ground and I was expecting a lot more damage than there was. Just because I have glass and crystal and I thought for sure that would be gone. In fact there were like glasses on the ground but they weren’t broken. I was actually so grateful. It was really minimal,” said Dalke.

Other stores, like the local Safeway reported a bit more damage – workers said they spent early Sunday morning cleaning up broken bottles in the liquor store there.

Broken bottles in Safeway liquor store (Photo by Perry Lynn, Carrs/Safeway Grocery Manager)
Broken bottles in Safeway liquor store (Photo by Perry Lynn, Carrs/Safeway Grocery Manager)

Ninilchik resident Katie Kennedy says she also had a more intense earthquake experience.

“I lost paintings off the wall. I have broken tiles from things falling off the refrigerator. I’ve got heavy duty tiles. There was really a substantial amount of damage just in the house,” said Kennedy.

Many South Peninsula residents say this earthquake was stronger and lasted longer than others they’ve experienced in Alaska.

Back in Homer, Kelly Behen is not letting the earthquake keep her from watching the New England Patriots lose to the Denver Broncos. From a viewing party at a local hotel, she says she’s lived in Homer over 20 years and she’s used to earthquakes.

“It was still [a] scary feeling because it lasted so long and I knew right away it had to be at least a six point something,” said Behen.

Behen says she instinctively put her shoes and her coat on, then she made for safer ground.

“My bed is a platform bed so I was either going to go under the bed or out [of] the house. And then I did go outside,” said Behen.

Behen says she felt about two or three aftershocks in the 1st hour after the quake.

Michael West with the Alaska Earthquake Center says they recorded aftershocks rolling in at one per minute in those first few hours.

The central peninsula saw more substantial damage than its neighbors to the south. There leaking gas caused an explosion and house fires, and nearly 5,000 people lost power.

In Homer, Dalke believes some good may have come from this earthquake. She says people are talking more about what they can do to be better prepared for the next one.

Quinton Chandler is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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