• 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

    Alaska Federation of Natives Convention Day 2: Courting the Native vote

    by Rhonda McBride on Oct 24, 23:31

    Candidates have traditionally courted the Alaska Native vote at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention. But this election-season ritual has reached a fever pitch this year. Some of that could be due to the formation of the Unity ticket; the merged campaigns of Bill Walker, who was running as an independent candidate for governor, and […]

  • News

    Steese Highway collision kills 1

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 24, 23:00

    One person is dead and another injured following a head-on crash outside Fairbanks Friday night, Alaska State Troopers said. The collision on the Steese Highway near Hagelbarger Avenue was reported to troopers in Fairbanks just before 7:15 p.m., according to an AST dispatch. One person was seriously injured and later succumbed to their injuries, troopers […]

  • News

    South Anchorage crash injures 1, temporarily closes highway

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 24, 22:15

    Both lanes of the Seward Highway were closed for more than two hours Friday evening following a two-vehicle collision that left one person hospitalized. According to the Anchorage Police Department, the crash happened just after 5:30 p.m. near the highway’s intersection with O’Malley Road. A vehicle heading north crossed the median and hit another vehicle […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Oct. 24

    by KTVA Weather on Oct 24, 19:58

     

  • News

    Dam expansion increases Sitka’s power production

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 24, 19:44

    The Blue Lake Project in Sitka is set to dramatically increase the production of hydroelectricity for the city. Five miles out of town, up a one-lane dirt road, tucked into the mountains, construction crews work on the expansion in the windy canyon. The project is so massive it takes Alaska’s largest, 600-ton crane to make […]

  • News

    Anchorage mom loses boxing match, still wins big

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 24, 19:18

    Maria Edwards had never boxed before she got in the ring Thursday night at the Egan Center. But she had a good reason for taking part in Anchorage’s Thursday Night Fights: She was trying to earn enough cash to afford gymnastic lessons for her 3-year-old son. Edwards had her eye on the prize money, $50 […]

  • News

    Complaints lead to towing ordinance update

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 24, 18:46

    Anchorage residents who are angry over inconsistent and often exorbitant towing fees may soon see some relief. The Anchorage Assembly discussed a proposed amendment to the municipal towing ordinance Friday. The amendment would cap the price of non-consensual tows, such as when cars are towed from private lots, at $225. It also prevents towing companies from […]

  • News

    Assembly debates software program audit

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 24, 18:06

    Anchorage Assembly members met Friday to discuss how to best move forward with the municipality’s troubled software overhaul. Members debated conducting an independent audit of the SAP program, which is designed to automate many aspects of government, including payroll. But the program is three years overdue and more than $20 million over budget. Assembly members […]