Mayor Berkowitz makes disaster declaration after 7.0 earthquake
After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and several aftershocks rattled Anchorage, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz made a disaster declaration that allows the municipality to call on the State of Alaska for assistance.
Since the initial quake, there have been hundreds of aftershocks.
Late Friday afternoon, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz thanked Anchorage for its character during and after the quake, following Gov. Bill Walker in expressing gratitude for the apparently lack of fatalities.
"Anchorage has responded with great character to what would be an overwhelming disaster for a lot of communities," Berkowitz said. "The infrastructure damage has been mitigated to a great extent by how we built things."
City manager Bill Falsey spoke about what the declaration means in terms of funds from the state and federal governments.
"The bookkeeping on this event will probably take a good amount of time and it is not the first priority," he said.
Falsey said Anchorage police will be temporarily shutting down inbound Glenn Highway traffic, from roughly 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., to prioritize outbound traffic. The closure has since been extended to 9 p.m.
"The goal is to allow everyone who came into town from the Valley to return," Falsey said.
Falsey said the Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility's boil notice for water was issued strictly due to "an abundance of caution." He dismissed rumors that AWWU would cut water service.
"We are currently responding to 28 mainline water breaks and 70 requests to cut residential service," Falsey said. "We have no plans to cut off any part of the water or wastewater system."
The Anchorage Fire Department responded to at least four separate fires Friday, Falsey said, as well as a small number of "structural collapses."
Anchorage Fire Chief Jodie Hettrick added that AFD is "very, very proud of Anchorage residents that one, they stepped up and took care of each other and two, were prepared for this kind of disaster."
The Glenn Highway was down to one lane inbound and two lanes outbound, according to Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll, with plans pending to shut down the inbound lane for roughly an hour early Friday evening.
"We have between 40,000 and 50,000 commuters coming into town every day so it's always an issue that we're cognizant of and have some experience dealing with," Doll said.
In regard to reports of structural collapses, Hettrick said as of just before 5 p.m. Friday, there were only a couple in Anchorage.
"We have reported to us just after the quake two structural collapses," Hettrick said. "We don't have too many details on those, because we were responding to four working fires, but they appeared to be older structures."
APD Chief Doll said there had been no reports of looting across the city following the quake.
"We have an extremely heavy police officer presence in the city right now, so I don't anticipate that that will be a problem," Doll said.
At a press conference earlier Friday morning at the Emergency Operations Center, Fire Chief Jodie Hettrick and Police Chief Justin Doll gave brief updates and said crews were still surveying damage at that time. Hettrick advised people to shelter in place and stay off the roads if possible.
All three lanes of the inbound Glenn Highway were damaged and "not passable" at some points, Doll said. Traffic had been diverted Friday to the Glenn's outbound lanes as well as part of the Old Glenn Highway.
"I think the fact we went through something this significant with this minimal amount of damage says we're a very well-prepared community, that our building codes and our building professionals have done a terrific job making sure that what we have here is appropriate for the place we live." Berkowitz said that morning.
KTVA's Heather Hintze and Chris Klint contributed to this report.
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