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Earthquakes in Rural Alaska – I Thought I Was Safe!


I used to think I was safe from most natural disasters living here in Southeast Alaska. We are not prone to floods because it pretty much all drains into the sea and on average get about 13 feet (yes, feet) of rain a year. We are used to it. That also negates regular threats of wildfires. No tornadoes or hurricanes although we regularly get storms in winter that have sustained winds of 60, gusting to 80+. Again, we are used to it and since I live in a forest, the trees and little islands help to break the wind up. Tsunamis are, of course, a threat due to being in a coastal town but again – all of the islands around us would help break some of it up. No volcanoes overly close to speak of either.  I knew Alaska has the record for the largest earthquake (9.2) and we recently passed the 50th anniversary. Lately, there have been a large amount of strong earthquakes around the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and have even felt a few here that have gotten me thinking maybe I am not as safe as I thought.

As I usually do, I went on a fact finding quest and what I found shocked me. Out of the top 10 strongest earthquakes recorded, 9 of them have been in Alaska! I was absolutely stunned. Granted, the location of these earthquakes were far away from where I live. The closest was in Yakutat Bay which is 426 miles away. Still, when you consider the overall size of the planet, 426 miles is ‘just around the corner’ and it has been a wake up call. OK so, now what to do? I need a plan for this. I know next to nothing about earthquakes but I have seen footage of the destruction and been through a few while I was in California years ago. My overactive imagination kicked in and I had nightmarish thoughts of my house simply crumbling with everything inside it. All my food preservation equipment, all that FOOD I have grown and stored up. All of the camping gear not to mention well…just everything! I am sure some could be recovered but ugh! it would awful. I admit I became a little overwhelmed and may have freaked out a tiny bit but then my planning side kicked it.

Since I just never really thought about it or prepped for it, I needed to do more research. I started with the gooberment’s sites and learned what the ‘officials’ said. It had the typical “make sure you have 72 hours of supplies for your family'” advice and other common sense statements but did not really tell me what I needed to know. After going through about half a dozen sites that made me wade through a bunch of useless information to get to the good stuff I stumbled across a straightforward post that gave me at the least the basics of what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.  Through this, I at least have a jumping point to start from. First aid skills, being able to turn off the utilities if needed, supplies on hand, etc. OK I can do that. The Mister and I plan on taking basic and advanced First Aid and CPR classes this summer. I have long thought about making some caches closer to the house and within half a mile so now would seem a good time to do it. I need to be able to have food, water, shelter and warmth if the house crumbles down. We have caches of supplies in other places on certain routes to safety but for the initial post-disaster scenario, all we have close to home (without being inside)  is the bag we keep in the car. I realized we would be in trouble. At most, we would be covered (assuming we could sleep in the car) for 24-36 hours. I realized I have made a newbie mistake and need to up my game. Things on my To Do List include:

  • Completing First Aid and CPR classes
  • Making caches closer to home that will allow us to be comfortable “camping” for two weeks
  • Increasing water storage capabilities using a water catch system
  • Assess items that can be moved to a potentially safer location until we are able to buy a home/property
  • Finish getting my ‘important papers’ in order and have both paper copies and digitally on a thumb drive that is stored outside the home
  • Make a communication plan between loved ones and buy some good radios. We plan on getting a set of at least 4 with a powerful signal. (The terrain and trees can hinder receiving capabilities)
  • Make a meet up plan with loved ones
  • Learn disaster plan for workplaces

After having completing the research (I am sure I will do more!) and making a good plan, I feel much better about the situation. I am glad I decided to look things up and have yet another veil lifted from my eyes. This situation could have caught me completely unawares and while it still might, at least I am being proactive and following a plan to be more prepared. That is the best any of us can do.


Homestead Dreamer lives in beautiful Southeast Alaska with her husband, 2 dogs and 2 cats. Follow along as she works to live a more self -sufficient lifestyle and learn the skills that go along with it. In addition to writing for the THR, you can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, or on her blog, Homestead Dreamer.

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