• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: Follow our AFN Live Blog - Read More
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


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

    Mayor says Fairbanks 4 deserve compensation

    by Associated Press on Oct 21, 8:29

    The mayor of Fairbanks says the city and state of Alaska should consider compensating the four indigenous men who spent nearly two decades in prison before their convictions for the beating death of a teenager were overturned. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Mayor John Eberhart discussed ways the city can work to repair its relationship […]

  • Weather

    First snowfall makes for slippery morning commute in Anchorage, Mat-Su

    by Rachael Penton on Oct 21, 6:25

      ANCHORAGE — Last updated at 8:10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 21 Make extra time for your Friday morning commute if you plan to drive in the Anchorage or Mat-Su areas. A cold front passing through Southcentral has brought the season’s first measurable snowfall. Snowy morning commute update: Crash on Tudor Rd, just before New Seward overpass — has westbound […]

  • News

    Flash mob brings opera to students at Clark Middle School

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 20, 20:11

    Students at Clark Middle School got more than they bargained for at the school cafeteria on Thursday. Lunch came with a side of opera and dance, courtesy of a flash mob. Several members of the Anchorage Opera dressed as cafeteria helpers surprised students by bursting into song for a short performance from Rigoletto. Bruce Wood, […]

  • Anchorage police want to teach you how to track local crime online

    by Shannon Ballard on Oct 20, 19:56

    The scanners may be turned off but the Anchorage Police Department (APD) says there is another way to figure out when crime is happening in your neighborhood. For the first time, the Anchorage Police Department is hosting a series of Community Crime Map training events. The technology has been around for years and officers say […]

  • News

    50 years later: AFN remembers milestones, talks unfinished business

    by Liz Raines on Oct 20, 19:15

    The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) kicked off its annual convention in Fairbanks Thursday. This year, with a milestone. It’s been 50 years since Alaska Natives banded together to reclaim lost lands, a bond forged through long hours, and endless determination. “We took the heat, the criticism, the negative editorials,” remembered Emil Notti, one of […]

  • Politics

    ‘I am so done with it’: Voters feeling fatigued this election season

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 20, 18:43

    With the final presidential debate wrapped up and the presidential election only 18 days away, the candidates have a short time left to win over voters. But do voters want to be won over? Or are they just over this election? Election fatigue is when people start feeling exhausted by non-stop coverage. The Pew Research […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: It’s time Anchorage gets excited about Uber

    by John Tracy on Oct 20, 16:26

    On a recent trip outside Alaska, I decided to find out what all the fuss was about concerning the ride sharing company Uber. I’m not the most technically savvy guy, but even without the help of my teenager, I downloaded the app and reluctantly gave Uber my credit card number. When I arrived at the […]

  • News

    Alaska Native remains could return home from Pennsylvania

    by Associated Press on Oct 20, 14:46

    A small group of people are working with the U.S. Army to bring home the remains of 15 Alaska Natives who attended a boarding school in Pennsylvania more than a century ago. The Carlisle Industrial Indian School was founded in 1879 by Richard Henry Pratt. The Army officer created the military-style school on the belief […]