Sunday, December 2, 2018

Earthquake November 2018

Note:  This post was started to be written yesterday (Saturday), but I didn't finish it until today (Sunday) due to me wrenching something in my back during the earthquake which resulted in a TERRIBLE headache all day yesterday and then my son was vomiting all day, so yeah...I was pretty busy and miserable.  The fun never ends.

Yesterday (November 30, 2018) started out not a whole lot of fun.  I got Armina to school like normal but the son woke up with lower stomach issues, so I called him in sick to school.  He seemed like he was starting to feel better and my husband and I started talking about maybe taking him shopping later in the day with us as it was our normal shopping day.

And then, in a heartbeat, everything changed.

The earthquake didn't come in like a normal earthquake tremor.  It didn't start out as a gentle shake.  No, it hit the house like a jackhammer and it just got worse.  Honestly, I can only equate the whole experience to what it must be like to be inside a jack hammer while it is running.  The husband got to the son's room before I did, grabbed Alvah and held him in a death grip in the doorway.  I was able to see that much as I rushed down toward them before all the lights went out.  I got the crap beat out of me as things flew off the walls, doors popped open and things fell out at me, but after a few whollops I got to the doorway and we just held onto each other and held onto that doorway for all we were worth.  

I have never been that scared in my entire life.  The force of the hammering the house took was awful.  My husband and I didn't say it out loud but we were worried the house was going to go if it kept up much longer as the force of the quake was just that severe, but we also knew there was no where you could run to get away from it.  I mean all of the land in every direction was moving.  All you could do was ride it out.  And pray.  Boy did I do that.

That was the longest moments of my life.  We waited out the initial quake and then were trying to figure out how to get down the hallway and find some type of light source when the aftershock hit which was nearly as bad as the initial quake.  Once it was over we quickly formulated a plan on getting some clothes for Alvah (since he'd just about gotten up when everything happened) finding coats and things and trying to get to the school to see if Armina was alright after my husband ran outside fast and made sure the gas line was still secure and not leaking.  I called the school about 18 times as I rushed to find clothes for Alvah, but all you got was a busy signal.  Everything was just chaos.  All I can say through this entire event was thank GOD for the invention of the cell phone and also for the fact that we never got rid of a real land line with a corded phone, because those things were so important yesterday.  

I was frantic to get to the school and see if it was still standing and if my baby was alright as tsunami warnings for anyone near rivers or water to get to high ground lit up our cell phones and we fielded calls from family.  It just seemed like it was impossible to get out of the house quickly, which was driving my husband's and my anxiety up to new levels.   Things were just everywhere.  Anything that used to be off the floor was now on it, or so it appeared and there was broken glass pretty much everywhere.

Sorry for the crappy quality of the photos.  My phone didn't like the dim light and then the new "app" version of Photoscape is vexing me on trying to figure out how to convert things properly.  I managed to, in the dim light, fight the laundry room door open, hoping to get clothes from the dryer for Alvah as my bedroom was a huge pile of...everything...and just saw stuff.  It was awful.  We had standing water all over the floor about an inch deep (the hot water heater had sprung a leak in the earthquake and shot water everywhere) and the freezer had flown open and dumped food everywhere.  Luckily, it seemed, all of the meat that hit the water was still sealed so I was able to shove it all back into the freezer and shut the door somehow.

I then realized that water was leaking from somewhere upstairs and later found a bunch of standing water in the kid's bathroom and realized that their toilet tank was gone.  We drained the toilet tank as best we could and will have to get a new one on Monday somewhere if we can.  For now we're using a five gallon bucket of water from the tub to flush the toilet.

Then my daughter's boyfriend's father called and said he was at the school, Armina was safe and would I like me to have him take her home.  That man is getting one Heck of a Christmas gift somehow, that much I can tell you, as that moment of pure relief was only compared when Armina launched herself out of the truck and into my arms.  Her winter coat and all of her school stuff is still at school as they quickly evacuated the school and just handed out blankets and sweatshirts and things to the kids to keep them warm until they could be picked up.  We've since gotten an e-mail stating the school is out till at least Wednesday and an e-mail from her orchestra teacher saying all the instruments are okay, so that was a relief for her to hear.  All the schools in the borough, the superintendent said in an e-mail, put their earthquake protocols into effect efficiently and with great speed, all of the kids did stellar and only minor injuries were reported.  That was a good thing to read.

Once Armina was home we all piled into the truck and got warm while we waited for daylight so we could go in and survey the damage better. It is so dark so late here right now, that we realized that there was really not a whole lot we could do in the house for a little bit, so we came up with a game plan of sorts.

We piled into the truck to see if the highway was open so my husband could go into work as he learned the airport was shut down and they were asking anyone who could make it in to do so as they needed everyone they could get.  We drove down to the round about down our road only to see flashing lights all over the intersection to get onto the way to the highway, so my husband turned around and headed back to the house to see if he could get some info on how everything was shaking out on his emergency radio.  While he drove my husband started by calling his brother to see how they were as I'd already exchanged texts and things from my mother-in-law and found out they were safe.  While talking to his brother my husband found out that there was collapses on the highway, bridges were out and other stuff that was going on.  When my husband realized that they had the highway shut down going into Anchorage, he gave up on going into work (since the only way into Anchorage is the highway) and we went back to the house.  It was then we finally started to really LOOK at the damage.
The chimney, my husband quickly saw when we were pulling into the driveway and had some light to see, was missing brick and was possibly separated from the house.  On closer inspection it definitely was, so he went and shut off the gas to the furnace.

The power came on for a little bit and we felt a lot of relief as it is a lot easier to see what you are doing with lights on and we could run the electric heat since the furnace is out of commission until a big question mark.  And then the power went out again.
We were without power most of the day after that.. Thank God it was decently warm out for this time of year.  I cleaned up the remains of our life in objects as best I could, trying to dig out our supply of emergency water (everything on the shelves by the door in the pantry was on the floor, we had a bottle of teriyaki sauce break all over the hallway, I just found our emergency supplies by the hot water heater at nearly the end of the day yesterday as cleaning up the laundry room and pantry took hours.

With the sunlight we could get coming in the windows we did the best we could with a broom, a dust pan and our bare hands (goodness knows where work gloves were in the garage...everything fell, lighter fluid broke open and other things) while my husband scrambled to get out and find parts to hook up our generator to the house, in case we didn't get power on for a few days (as our electric company was scrambling to get 20 substations back online and repair as much damage as they could) and get some groceries.  He found a store open and got what milk he could, got some eggs and got the things on our shopping list the store had since we knew we could at least run a generator to keep the fridge going.  We didn't realize at the time that a lot of local stores got hit hard and are going to be shut down for quite a while possibly.  Target is closed due to water pipes that broke and possible other damage, Wal-Mart was closed for gas leaks (not sure if they are open now or not, honestly), a part of Carrs roof in Wasilla completely caved was a whole lot of not good.  A section of Vine road in Wasilla just fell in, some roads have parts that just kind of disappeared.  

We even have a small fissure along the side of our road, but I'm hoping it's just the snow pack that broke.

I sent the family on a mission to find the cats.  My husband quickly found Prince when he shut off the gas to the furnace as Prince jammed himself behind the furnace and wasn't moving for anything, but I was worried about Belkar as well...she's kind of stupid and I was worried she got under one of the 18 bazillion piles of things that fell and had gotten killed as I was expecting her to be meowing up a storm and all was deathly silent.  My husband found her jammed into a small ball under our bed, safe and sound, thank goodness, so after that I just concentrated on one pile of broken things at a time.

Most of the photos shown were taken after I'd actually cleaned up a lot and the husband reminded me to take pictures for the insurance company (oops on not taking them ahead of time).  We lost a lot of stuff.  My husband has tools that flew out of drawers, off of shelves and anywhere they could and hit the classic car he's had since he was 16.  It's got some pretty substantial damage to it.  A lot of the tools that hit said car, broke in the process.

My kitchen was one big pile of broken glass.  I lost vintage Corelle, Pyrex and milk glass pieces I'd been collecting forever, regular dishes, every single serving platter I have, you name it.  The microwave and everything on, or in, the sideboard flew and landed on the floor.  The microwave is KIND of working, but I'm not sure why it's under-powered like it is (or so it seems to me).  All I use it for anymore is really defrosting meat and popping popcorn for the son, so if it dies I'll figure out an alternative. 

In all of this, one thing kept coming out of my mouth, "Thank GOD I collect Tupperware!"  That stuff saved my flour and sugar containers from being lost and even kept their lids on, those dishes flew out of the cabinets and bounced.  The only thing that even popped it's lid was the container of popcorn on the sidebar and that's because (I'm relatively certain) it had the silverware and microwave bouncing off of it.  Something hit my brand new Misto bottle I had just gotten in from Amazon and actually darn near punched a hole through it, but the old Misto bottle was still on the counter and so I just switched out the parts.  My new laptop somehow managed to stay on my desk and nothing heavy flew on top of it, so I'm typing on that right now.  I'd just gotten it in the mail Thursday night, so I'm glad that it survived long enough for me to at least fire it up and start to figure out how it works.

NOTE:  The following is written on Sunday, after getting some sleep, a couple cups of coffee, having a son that's not throwing up and feeling less like my head is going to explode.

The biggest worry for me when we were without power and we were being warned that MEA (our electric company) might not have power restored for a couple of days (thank GOD for smart phones and being able to pull up their Facebook page to get updates on my phone), was food spoiling.  Our generator is a nice big one, but electric heat takes a lot of power to run, so we knew we could at least heat necessary spaces to keep the pipes from freezing, get the well running so we'd have water and stuff, but my husband was worried he wasn't going to be able to run the freezers while doing that.  We figured we could try and stagger what we were running, but weren't sure how well it would work.  Normally I would have considered canning as much as I could, and thank goodness a lot of my empty mason jars survived (I hope...I haven't opened the box yet, but it seemed the box itself made it through the earthquake without getting crushed by anything).  But I am not going to be canning much anytime soon.  Dang, I'm tearing up as I type this.  My wonderful Presto pressure canner...old reliable, that I have had for about as many years as I've had children, didn't make it.  I'm not sure what fell on it, or how far it flew and whacked off of something, but it's now more egg shaped than circular, the top was's just gone.  Armina's TV is broken beyond repair and we're not sure about how well her DVD and VCR work because...well...her TV is broken and transferring things to another room to check on the status of those items has to wait until we can get to and from those places easily again.  The new TV in my bedroom fell over, but not off the shelf it was on, so it survived and the other two TV's...the wall mounts did their job and did them well and they rode things out okay.

I'm not sure about the state of Christmas gifts at this point.  My closet is one big cube of stuff when you manage to get the door open enough to see, so I'm not sure what might have fallen and broken stuff in the process.  The gifts under the tree...some heavier things fell into them from the wooden ledge above, so I have to check those out, but tying up the tree because it leaned all the time actually saved the tree from going over.  The star fell over, but the tree seems to have survived the onslaught and somehow came out straighter after the fact we think.  I've still got to try and see if the son's closet will work on it's track still as it's kind of sitting not right and his door is definitely not closing and out of whack.  The man doors on the garage are nearly impossible to open now and we have a hole in the door frame where wood cracked and popped, but at least it's a small one.  What was left of the gutters popped so many nails that I'm worried about solid chunks of ice filled gutter are going to come down on us at any moment so I'm rushing the kids out of danger every time we go outside.  We might have to tear down the barn.  There's cracks where there aren't supposed to be and the roof is dipping in the middle where it shouldn't, but the husband hasn't had a chance to go down and really do a complete survey of the damage to see how bad it truly is.  We haven't even cracked open the shed or the 40' storage van to see about the damage, but I'm honestly figuring all the stuff in the 40' van is probably gone at this point.  There is NO way the shelves didn't collapse in that type of a quake.  I have family heirlooms in there we didn't have room for in the house and I'm already bracing myself to accept that things like the dollhouse my grandfather made for me when I was a little girl, and was hoping to pass onto my kids, is probably gone.

The retaining wall along our driveway is just gone and needs to be completely redone.  I'm hoping our well casing came through okay because our wishing well protector thing really jammed into the well when everything hit.

This is rough guys.  Really rough.  I'm so overwhelmed I went past "I can't even" about two days ago.  I'm like a lot of other people up here right now.  I just tackle one pile of stuff at a time and am trying to remember to document things as I find them.  I had gotten organized, thank God, and had put all of my home owners insurance information into a binder in the den and was able to get to that.  The big sewing cabinet with all of my material in it actually popped the doors open on it, but rode the earthquake okay, somehow.  All of the material kind of packed around the glass jars I had in it so they didn't fly out and break....which is a relief as I have a big jar of buttons in there that would have resulted in a much bigger mess in the den and I was able to get to the binders for insurance since they were in that.  I've been carrying around a piece of paper with our insurance companies number on it from that binder ever since.  We have a claim filed with them and will hopefully see an adjuster on Monday (they are closed on the weekend) and my husband filed a claim with his classic car insurance online (they are closed for the weekend for an event...sigh), but at this point I have no idea what they are going to cover and how much we'll be able to fix with what we get.  FEMA money might cover what they don't...I don't know.  I know that right now we're putting everything we need on the one credit card we have (Care Credit switched one of our cards to a Mastercard a few months back) and we'll just deal with it all later.  It's all we can do at this point.

I haven't eaten much of anything in two days and didn't drink enough on Friday in the way of non-sugared beverages, so I'm probably going to have to go to the doctor's on Monday to check for a UTI and make sure my back is okay.  Goodness knows if I can get in with everything that has happened, but I'm probably going to have to try.

We didn't sleep the night before last.  We got so many aftershocks, a lot of them bad enough to wake us from a sound sleep and preparing to launch into the nearest doorway, that sleep just wasn't happening very well.  My husband and I slept on the floor of our bedroom in the one corridor of floor we could find, piled the kids in our bed and luckily with the help of his Clonodine at least Alvah was able to get some sleep before he woke up vomiting yesterday morning (with a broken toilet that was even more not fun than it would have normally been).  Last night was at least better on the aftershock front.  We had a couple of good ones that had me bracing to launch myself to get Alvah and Armina into doorways if needed (I slept on Alvah's floor last night while my husband went to work to try and help get the airport up and running) and Alvah woke up a lot which had me waking up ready with a bowl if necessary, but we got through it a lot better than the previous night.  We're still getting aftershocks and every one that hits just makes your spine stiffen, adrenaline spike and your stomach bottom out as you wait to see what will happen.  It's this part of Alaska's new normal for the time being, I think.

I have gotten e-mails and messages on Facebook asking if there is anything people can do to help.  At this point, guys, the year has officially broken me when it comes to stuff happening.  I'm done.  If you want to help and can, please do (just please do me a favor and don't do the GoFundMe route as I guess that can really screw up your taxes and things and I just plain don't need more to deal with at the moment).  At this point, I am not turning down help if it is offered.  Period.  If you want to ship me something, e-mail me and we'll figure it out.  If you want to donate, I have paypal. The e-mail is

Sorry I didn't reply to all of the e-mails and things that have poured in.  It's been insane here.  I'll try to provide more of an update later.  For now, though, I'm out and off to try and get my living room somewhat livable so I can get the kid's lives back to a bit more of a normal status.

Thanks for the e-mails, the concern and the prayers.  Please, keep the prayers coming.  Alaska, and my family, needs them.



  1. So glad to hear that you are all safe but just horrified by what you have all gone through. First reports on the news didn't seem that bad but it just got worse and worse. I have to say that I have been totally appalled at how little coverage there has been on CNN (it's either Trump of George W.H. Bush) - and while I would certainly expect them to honour your former President I think they could have waited a bit until the official ceremonies and offered a bit more info on what was happening to all of you - I swear, the Canadian Broadcasting Co. has been providing more news!
    You must be just shattered - please try to remember and eat and drink - the rest of the family relies so much on you.
    If you haven't done so already - please add a print copy of this post to the documentation file for the Insurance Companies - it speaks to your trauma and what you actually had to go through and may be very important later.
    I will check on your PayPal Account tomorrow. Best wishes - stay safe.

  2. Pauilne in Upstate NYDecember 2, 2018 at 11:50 AM

    Oh, Erica... I am glad to see your post, as you have been on my mind ever since I heard the news about the quake, but your pictures confirm how terrible this quake truly was even if the number of immediate injuries was relatively small (as reported by major networks). Thank goodness you and your family are all (more or less) OK, but I’m sure you are all feeling traumatized by this disaster. Do you know if you’re going to have mail service or package delivery any time soon?

  3. I am so sorry that you and so many others are having to go through all of this. Just thanking God you are SAFE! that is the most important. I will keep you in my prayers. God will get you through this.

  4. Oh Erica!! My heart is breaking for you right now. I am so so sorry. There are no words at all I don't think that could comfort you and your family. I do want to do something to help you all, or at least a little something for your kids. I'm not sure what yet I'm going to think on it and then I will send you a note. I can't imagine how anxious you are right now I've never been through an earthquake I cannot imagine how terrifying that was. I'm so grateful that you and your family are safe. Hopefully the insurance adjusters get to you quickly and FEMA is able to give you money to help you get going.

  5. I’m so glad you guys are ok. What a mess! So sad! I hope you get some relief from your back and UTI. God bless you!

  6. Long-time reader but never commented. I'm relieved that you, your family and your pets are safe but so sorry to hear about all the destruction. I can't begin to imagine your level of stress right now. I read that the aftershocks will continue to be felt for months!

    I thought I'd share this post from Reddit that has lots of good information from an insurance adjuster on filing an HOI claim, as I thought it might help.

    Lots of hugs, Erika. I've always been so impressed by your attitude and resourcefulness. You are a strong woman and your family is very lucky to have you. Maybe you can create an Amazon wishlist and share the link? Not sure how packages will get to you, but eventually they will.

  7. Reading your post with tears in my eyes..I can not even begin to imagine the despair that you must be feeling! You guys have definitely been thru enough this year!! Keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Hi - I am so glad you posted - as soon as I saw the news I immediately thought of you and your family. I am so sorry this is happening to you. Please know you have my thoughts and prayers.

  9. Long distance hugs, Erika!

    Please remember to eat and drink and get what sleep you can. You are a super strong lady and need to take care of yourself too. I'm hoping Alvah feels better and that both of your children can get back to school on Wednesday for a bit of normal. That will give a bit of free time to work on things too.

    I'm so sorry you have lost so much. I am so grateful that your family is safe and that your husband was able to get back to work, at least. Hurray for food and water and at least a moderately working toilet or two.

    Prayers for all of you.

  10. Erika, I just signed up to receive your blog a couple days ago so this is the first posting I received, and it broke my heart. Thank GOD you are all alive.. I can not begin to imagine the heartbreak and devastation you and your family are going through. I pray for peace in your heart as you struggle to overcome this tragic event.

  11. We live in Northern Nevada and have a fault line near here. Even the small ones scare me so bad. I can't imagine the earthquake you had. Oh my. Prayers that all will turn out well and that the insurance co. will be more than generous. I can't imagine trying to fix and put it all together again. Hoping and praying the aftershocks stop and life can move forward. So sorry you all have to go through this. Take care.

  12. You are all in my prayers, Erica. Thinking of you and I want to help.
    Hugs and hang in there--
    Anne from Montana

  13. I thought of you right away when I heard the news. Praise God you are all safe. Will continue to keep you in my prayers as you clean up and recover from this terrifying experience.

  14. Erika, not sure where you are on non-generator electricity right now, but if any of your grocery stores are functional, they may have dry ice. If they do, it's usually not too expensive (down here, only a few bucks for one piece), and a piece in your freezer may keep things frozen for 1-3 days, especially if you cover freezer with blankets. Dry ice burns so keep it wrapped and don't touch with your bare hands. Also, if it is cold enough outside, it would be some work to empty and refill it, but maybe you could temporarily move your non-powered freezer outside to hold your frozen food temp. Just a thought. Good luck, wish I could be there to help you.
    Anne from Montana

    1. To the garage maybe - but I wouldn't move it outside - It's Alaska....bears love "free" buffets :)

  15. Erica, I'm so sorry your family has had such a devistating experience. I'm sure you are extremely overwhelmed with emotions right now. Don't for get to take a deep breath and count some blessing. Your family is safe. The things you lost are just that...things. They can be replaced, lives can't be. Your all OK and that is the most important thing to remember right now.

    Second, remember that there may be some blessings in all of this tragedy. Before this happened, you needed repairs on your home that you couldn't afford. You will be receiving money from insurance to repair your home. Start preparing yourself now by making a list of what you consider "must have fixed or replaced" and what are less important if there is not enough money to go around. It will help you process the overwhelming devistation around you to prioritize these things in your mind. If it is not a priority, allow yourself to let go and move on. Don't worry, everything will fall into place...they always do. You can handle this, Erica. You have lots of practice of doing things on a tight budget. I have faith in your abilities to put through this situation with flying colours! You've got this girlfriend!!!

  16. I was very glad to see this post from you when I woke up this morning. While I am glad you are all ok, I am horrified at the destruction that has been caused from this earthquake. I have been through a couple, much, much milder ones, and even those were disturbing to me. I can only imagine how much even the tiniest aftershock would send you into anxiety--it would me.

    I will pray for you as you continue cleaning up, sorting, and organizing what's left and determine what is needed. It seems like an overwhelming task, but from what I've read in your blog you are very good at organizing and cleaning. Still, I will pray for strength, both mental and physical, as that is a huge job and I'm sure there is pretty much anything else in the world you would rather be doing, especially at this time of year.

    I think it's really funny that the tree might be standing straighter. Take heart. If that crooked, lopsided tree can make it through, so can you! I love Rhonda A's idea of starting a list. I would be feeling so overwhelmed with the enormity of the job in front of me that I think it would help center and focus me to do that.

  17. For some reason my comment didn't go through. Take a few minutes and go on Amazon's wish list so we can help with the kids Christmas. I know many would like to help.

  18. I'm praying for you and your family, that everything will be put back better than it was and for you not to feel so overwhelmed. I have learned so much from your posts, thank you. I'm sorry you're going through all of this.

  19. Oh wow! Your pictures really bring home how destructive an earthquake can be. I'm glad to hear that you are all safe. Thinking of you in BC. Take care.