Earthquake Damaged Homes
by Gordon Parker
Many of us who were older (as in 17) volunteered for Civil Defense duty after the 1964 Alaska earthquake. We were assigned to different projects over the following few weeks.
On one of our assignments we were handed sledgehammers and told to take down the walls of the old airport. The building was no longer safe and would be replaced.
We spent several days salvaging what we could from damaged homes in Turnagain. We took out clothing, furniture that was still usable, even appliances including stoves and refrigerators. On one memorable occasion we even removed a toilet.
The houses were badly damaged.
I recall one that was completely broken in half. My friend Mike Dale and I climbed into that one. We were busy removing usable items when a strong aftershock struck. I really don't remember which of us was outside and which was inside. I do remember that the outside guy grabbed the arm of the inside guy and pulled him out just before the house slid farther down the earthquake-created plateau on which it stood.
The items we salvaged, as I recall, were taken to a warehouse and held there until the families could find new housing and reclaim their possessions.
There was another, less altruistic, motivation for volunteering to work with Civil Defense.
Anchorage was put under martial law for a while due to some looting. We weren't allowed to go out after dark. With a Civil Defense arm band and hard hat, you could go out. It was the only way we could go see our girlfriends. And, of course, we looked dramatically dashing in our CD gear.
BONUSGreat Alaskan Earthquake Survivor
A powerful story about a young teenage girl caught in the JC Penney building during the 1964 earthquake.
An amazing story of survival.
Check out Great Alaskan Earthquake Survivor