Near Quake’s Epicenter, Businesses Escape Relatively Unscathed

On Thursday morning, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake centered sixty miles from Talkeetna was felt from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

In the Talkeetna area, damage from Thursday morning’s earthquake was fairly minor. Some residents and businesses reported that items had fallen off of shelves and broken, but no serious structural damage was reported as of Thursday afternoon. That includes Skwenta, which was much closer to the magnitude 6.2 earthquake than Talkeetna. Natalia Ruppert, Chief Seismologist for the Alaska Earthquake Center, says the reason that the earthquake did not cause much damage is because it occurred deep in Earth’s crust.

“It was almost sixty miles deep, so that made the difference…The energy dissipated a bit before it reached the surface.”

There was still plenty of energy left in the earthquake to shake things up in Talkeetna for the better part of a minute, however. Lauri Stec, who manages Nagley’s General Store on Main Street, says that the only casualty in the store was a single bottle of wine. Nagley’s was open during the earthquake, and Lauri says that out-of-state visitors weren’t quite sure what to do when the building started to shake.

“I had some tourists in here. They were looking at us. We’re trying to tell them, ‘Please get away from the shelves. You need to walk outside. We’re having an earthquake.’ So, we ran everyone out the door. Everyone was just starting at the shelves, and we were like, ‘No, you don’t want to be near the shelves.'”

A short distance away, Michelle and Jonathan Davis were in their rented room over the Talkeetna Historical Society. They are visiting Alaska from Missouri, and had never experienced an earthquake before. Michelle Davis says the experience is one they won’t likely forget.

“Actually, my first thought was that they had decided to demo the building and forgot that we were up here. The whole building was sort of swaying, and it felt like it was going to implode. It was shaking really bad, and we had some things fall off in the kitchen and in the bathroom. It was that momentary shock of, ‘What is this,’ then, ‘Ok, what do we do?'”

By early afternoon, life was largely back to business as usual in Talkeetna. All of the area schools report no injuries or significant damage, and people are going about their day. The question people are asking now is, “Is the shaking over?” Natalia Ruppert says that the depth of the earthquake will probably significantly dampen any aftershocks.

“Normally, we don’t see that many aftershocks from deep earthquakes…It’s been a few hours, already, and we’ve only seen half-a-dozen aftershocks, and they were all really small.”

September is emergency preparedness month. Information regarding how to prepare for the next big earthquake can be found online at www.ready.gov/earthquakes.