Too Much Water, No Peace

In 1964, the unthinkable happened in Alaska. The largest earthquake… could it really have have been 9.2… happened on Good Friday, March 27, at 5:36 and lasted for 3 minutes. It’s significant that it happened on Good Friday, because everyone was home. Only 143 people died.

I had just moved to San Francisco and was walking down the street when the Loma Prieta Earthquake happened in 1989. It was a frightening and amazing experience. But it was only 6.9 and lasted just 15 seconds. For every tenth of a point, the power of the quake goes up by a factor of 10. I get confused by the math… but I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been. Plates made enormous movements. You wonder what happened to the fish and sea mammals. OK. I looked it up. Sad. But it makes sense. They’re all part of that ecosystem…

And then to have that wall of water sweep up the inlet. Thirty feet high and 90 miles per hour. Could anything be more frightening? That it went that direction saved many lives, because it meant that the tsunami did not hit Anchorage. But it raced up that narrow inlet and inundated Alaska’s farmland, turning it to salt bogs. What a loss.

As our bus driver told these stories, the bus quieted and simply looked out the window… If there was Peace to be found that day, it was in our shared reaction to the devastation.


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