Alaska is so large that, when a properly scaled map (not the mini- version that has us floating off the edge of California in a box about the same size as the one Hawaii is also in) is superimposed on a map of the lower forty-eight, it extends to every border, and pretty much covers the entire country. Haines is over 500 miles as the crow flies, 800 by road, and mountain ranges away from Anchorage. Juneau is too, and Dutch Harbor, where another daughter lives, is about 800 miles in the other direction out on the Aleutian island chain.
Which means that we did not feel the earthquake in Haines, except in very real emotional ways initially for friends and family and co-workers (there are many ties to the largest city in the state out across all those miles) —The worry over a couple who just had a baby up there, and local students at UAA, or the neighbor’s daughter who lives there, and former residents who do, too–fortunately everyone is safe, no one was killed (that they know of yet) — miraculously some might say– It was a magnitude 7.0, and cracked, lifted, and sank big highways, dumped library books off shelves, broke pipes, turned grocery store floors all sloppy and slick with busted jars and broken boxes, and from the looks of my friends facebook posts, broke all the glassware in kitchens, shook art from the walls, tipped dressers and computers over and toppled bookcases. It’s a mess and mostly, was really scary. The shakes keep coming. Over 200 aftershocks so far.
Everyone, everyone, says they are grateful that their loved ones are alive, well, and safe, and that is what matters most.
Next, I’m sure will be news of the best ways we can help people displaced by the disaster, and we all will. That’s what Alaskans do very well. (That’s what people do well everywhere, isn’t it?)
I am on a big deadline for my next book. Today… (Which really means Monday, since it is Saturday) and so my desk looks a little like those office facebook posts from Anchorage. Just a little. How grateful I am that the quake wasn’t worse, and that this morning my only complaint is a messy desk– and that my publisher wants to read what I write. (Next week my office will get a thorough cleaning. I may even paint. Once we string up the Christmas lights, and find the advent calendar anyway…)