Homer residents evacuate after quake sounds tsunami alarms

Several Homer residents watch the news at the South Peninsula Hospital after evacuating. (Renee Gross, KBBI News)

Homer residents woke up to tsunami sirens in the early morning hours Tuesday. The National Weather Service Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer issued a tsunami warning for the Gulf of Alaska after an 7.9 magnitude earthquake was recorded about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak City at 12:32 a.m.

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Many Homer residents evacuated, loading their family and pets into cars and headed to higher ground. Several gathered at the South Peninsula Hospital and more congregated at the Homer High School after the city opened it to shelter evacuated residents.

Homer Police Chief Mark Robl says police officers helped evacuate the Homer Spit, and urged residents in low-lying areas to evacuate over their vehicles’ PA systems.

Homer Deputy Harbormaster Matt Clark inspects the city’s ice plant for gas leaks and other damage from the earthquake. (Aaron Bolton, KBBI News)

Initial tsunami waves were expected to hit Kodiak around 1:45 a.m. The Kodiak Police Department reported receding water in Kodiak’s harbor at about 2:30 a.m., and the National Weather Service reported waves under a foot in Kodiak, Seward and Yakutat, but no waves were recorded in Homer.

Residents were allowed to return home after the National Weather Service downgraded the threat to an advisory  around 3:30 a.m.

Homer harbor staff evaluated harbor infrastructure for damage from the quake and potentially strong currents after the downgrade. Initial inspections by staff showed no damage or leaks at the Petro Marine fuel plant, the city’s Pioneer Dock, which provides infrastructure to pump fuel to the plant. The city’s ice plant, which contains hydrous ammonia gas, also showed no initial signs of damage.

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