• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 37s

Coastal communities hit hard by tsunamis following ’64 quake

By Lauren Maxwell 10:45 PM March 27, 2014

Seward still at risk

SEWARD –

More than 130 people lost their lives in the 1964 earthquake, but what most people don’t know is that many of those deaths occurred in coastal communities from the tsunamis that followed.

More than a dozen people died in Seward from tsunamis and their aftermath. The big waves were generated by an underwater landslide in Resurrection Bay that sent 30-foot waves crashing to the shore just minutes after the quake.

Scientists say the second wave to hit the shoreline in Seward did the most damage. It ruptured fuel tanks along the water’s edge, which then caught on fire. Flaming waves carried burning petroleum and debris out into the bay and then back to the shore, setting everything they touched on fire.

Most of Seward’s shoreline has been rebuilt since the ’64 quake and tsunamis that followed. The fuels tanks have been pulled back from shore and the town has posted evacuation routes so that residents know what to do and where to go if a tsunami should strike again.

Fire Chief Eddie Athey says Seward is definitely a safer town than it was 50 years ago. Still, he worries what would happen on a busy summer day. The town’s population can triple with visitors, many of them camping by the waterfront.

“It will be wall to wall campers,” Athey said. “Many of which are unfamiliar with our community, our procedures and what, in fact, it means when the siren goes off.”

The siren noise is a familiar sound in Seward, where the emergency warning system is tested weekly. Still, it isn’t fail-safe, especially with the type of tsunamis Seward has experienced, which leaves little time to get away.

Experts say the best advice for people who live in coastal communities is not to wait for sirens, warnings or anything else. If you feel an earthquake that lasts more than 30 seconds and find difficult to stand, you need to head to higher ground immediately.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Cathay Pacific airliner makes emergency landing in Aleutians

    by Associated Press on Jul 29, 7:29

    A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 bound from Hong Kong to Los Angeles International Airport has diverted to a U.S. air base in the Aleutian Islands. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says Flight 884 declared an emergency and landed early Wednesday morning at Eareckson Air Station in Shemya, Alaska. Gregor referred questions about the reason […]

  • Crime

    Michigan man convicted on 37 charges relating to fake charities, fraud and identity theft

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 28, 22:45

    A Michigan man has been convicted of using fake charitable organizations in an Alaska fraud and identity theft case. On Monday, 46-year-old Alan Michael Bartlett, of Owosso, Mich., was convicted of two counts of mail fraud, 20 counts of bank fraud, five counts of wire fraud, five counts of false statements to the U.S. Postal […]

  • Sports

    Alaska athlete takes on 18-hole course at Special Olympics World Games

    by Megan Mazurek on Jul 28, 21:43

    A Palmer golfer played his personal best in a round of golf Tuesday at the Special Olympics World Games. Garrett Stortz, 24, played 8 over par on the Harding Course at Griffith Park. After the first two [holes] I started hitting it and settling down,” Stortz said. “I was making some puts and hitting the […]

  • News

    Anchorage in Transition: Melinda Freemon discusses health and the homeless

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 28, 21:36

    With the election of Anchorage’s new mayor, Ethan Berkowitz, comes a new administration. All this week during the 6 p.m. Evening News, KTVA be interviewing newly appointed department heads about their plans for the future of Anchorage. Tuesday, we were joined by Melinda Freemon,who was appointed by Berkowitz as the director of the Department of […]

  • News

    Kodiak museum commemorates island’s WWII history

    by Heather Hintze on Jul 28, 20:54

    It’s just an old ammunition bunker on the outside, but inside the Kodiak Military History Museum on Fort Abercrombie comes to life with the sound of old telegraph machines and ticker tape. Black and white photographs freckle the walls in between displays of artillery and uniforms. “Remember I told you about my old jacket? Want […]

  • News

    Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital opens in Anchorage

    by Alexis Fernandez on Jul 28, 20:40

    Active duty military service members and veterans in Alaska have a new hospital to turn to for help. On Tuesday, Universal Health Services — the second largest U.S. hospital chain — cut the ribbon to its new Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital at 1650 Bragaw Street in Anchorage. The 36-bed hospital will primarily focus on mental health services like […]

  • News

    25 years of ADA, Part 2: Alaskans weigh in on how far we’ve come

    by Sierra Starks on Jul 28, 20:16

    Part 2 of KTVA’s ADA series is a look at how far our state has come in 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act — and a look at what lies ahead as Alaskans head into the next 25 years. A major milestone in civil rights At an event the muni hosted Monday to […]

  • News

    State moves quickly to save Glenn Highway from flooding in Sutton

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 28, 20:07

    The Matanuska River hasn’t just threatened homes recently, it’s been threatening the Glenn Highway too. Mile 64 is considered the most threatened, with water from the river only about 20 yards away. Fear of a washout has spurred the Alaska Department of Transportation to declare an emergency. “We don’t want to lose the road,” said […]