About a dozen Juneau families headed for higher ground after being jolted by a tsunami alert on their smartphones.

Many live on boats in harbors along the Gastineau Channel, which bisects downtown Juneau and Douglas Island.

Duncan Lay said he got the alert and grabbed a backpack, previously packed for emergencies.

“Everybody else was leaving too,” Lay said. “I’ve always got my pack ready to go. I warned a friend of mine. Some other people knocked on boats on the way up.”

Many Juneau residents wrote of feeling the quake on social media sites. Those who didn’t receive the tsunami alert shortly thereafter.

Many evacuated about four blocks toward higher ground and near the state’s Capitol, home to lawmakers who are now in session.

One lawmaker, House Rep. Dan Saddler (R-Eagle River) was among those who sought safety, but in his fourth-floor office.

“I made sure my staff knew about it and could make their own decisions,” Saddler said. “I encouraged them to come back to work and at least answer emails for a while – while waiting for the all clear to sound. I’m concerned about the folks in Kodiak. I just don’t know what happened there.”

Juneau’s Capitol recently underwent a multi-million dollar upgrade to fortify the structure in case an earthquake struck.

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