• 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

    In Kenai, search continues for missing family

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 30, 22:46

    Kenai police are making a last push to find a missing family of four and their dog. Rebecca Adams, her two daughters and her boyfriend, Brandon Jividen, have been missing since late May. Kenai police conducted what could be their last search for the family Thursday. They focused their efforts on the large wooded area […]

  • News

    LNG project open house draws large crowd, many questions

    by Dave Leval on Oct 30, 22:39

    It’s the biggest project for the state since the trans-Alaska pipeline. Backers of a proposed LNG pipeline hope they have more support for it. People packed the Crowne Plaza of Anchorage for the latest open house Thursday. The Alaska LNG Project would build a gas liquefaction plant near Prudhoe Bay. The natural gas would then travel […]

  • News

    Judge rules on National Guard document release

    by Emily Carlson on Oct 30, 21:30

    On Friday, Alaskans will get a glimpse into what Gov. Sean Parnell knew about the Alaska National Guard scandal, and when he knew it. Thursday afternoon, a Superior Court judge ruled the state must provide a detailed log of hundreds of pages of emails by Friday at noon. Judge Greg Miller lectured state attorneys on Alaska […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Oct. 30

    by KTVA Weather on Oct 30, 20:06

    Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound: It will be turning mostly cloudy along the coast with a chance of snow and rain by afternoon. Western Kenai will have mostly dry conditions tomorrow. Southeast: There will be rain showers for the panhandle. Interior/Slope: The Interior will have mostly cloudy skies with a flurry or two. Heavy snow […]

  • News

    Keeping kids safe on Halloween

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 30, 19:20

    The key to Halloween safety starts with the costume, and Dooley’s Tuxedos and Costumes in Anchorage has dozens of options for little ones. Many manufacturers have avoided adding masks and instead found a unique way to create characters. “We have a lot of ones that come with the hoods,” explained owner Starla Heim. “They don’t want […]

  • News

    ConocoPhillips unveils shrinking capital budget plans

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 30, 18:10

    While oil giant ConocoPhillips announced a reduced capital budget during a Thursday earnings call, a spokeswoman for the company said there are no plans to decrease spending in Alaska. “Capital reductions reflect the tapering off of major project spending as well as reductions in some of our less mature unconventional areas,” said Amy Burnett, a […]

  • Politics

    Campaign 2014: Forrest Dunbar

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 30, 16:14

    This week, KTVA is running a series of interviews with the main candidates for office. Today, the focus is on Forrest Dunbar. He grew up in rural Alaska, became a wildland firefighter and a fisherman, joined the Peace Corps and wound up with degrees from Harvard and Yale. Quite the resume for a 30-year-old guy, […]

  • News

    Survey ranks Alaska low in energy efficiency

    by Associated Press on Oct 30, 14:32

    A new survey on how states are improving energy efficiency programs ranks Alaska near the bottom. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has been tracking energy inefficiencies for eight years. It issues an annual survey on whether states are making progress. This year’s survey ranked Alaska 47th in the nation. Much of Alaska’s low […]