Kodiak residents wake up to tsunami sirens after earthquake

People seek shelter during a tsunami warning. (Photo by Mitch Borden/KMXT)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

A strong earthquake shook Alaska in the middle of the night. Coastal communities were issued a tsunami warning soon after. People in Kodiak rushed to get to higher ground as quickly as possible.

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A peaceful night in Kodiak was shattered by the howl of tsunami sirens after a 7.9 earthquake hit almost 200 miles southeast of Kodiak.

The town came to life once people realized this wasn’t a test and that a tsunami warning had been declared by the National Weather Service. Brake lights illuminated the road leading to Pillar Mountain as cars raced to get up it. People were trying to get as high as possible to avoid the potential wave.

Local canneries evacuated their workers after the earthquake hit. Jose Santo and his fellow workers were surprised and left immediately. But they didn’t know where to go. So they headed up Pillar by foot.

Borden: “What happened? Were you guys working and…”

Santo: “We didn’t feel anything.”

Borden: “You didn’t feel anything.”

Santo: “We were just in the break room. We was eating and heard something on the news and somebody yelling we have alert for tsunami we have to run. So that’s what we did.”

Joshua Hector was down by the water when the tsunami sirens went off. He ran out and started looking for a ride to get to higher ground, but couldn’t find one.

“I was waving down quite a bit of people. Probably like three cars and people were just driving by because they were freaking out. I finally got somebody to stop and a kind lady she was just leaving the Mcdonalds. She was a worker there I believe and she said ‘yes, you can come with me.’ So, thank god she helped me out.”

Hector got dropped off at the Kodiak High School where hundreds of people fled for safety. Over 600 people came into the shelter over the night. People found places to make their own in the school’s stairwells and hallways.

Sitting with her family, Ana Brabo reflects on what went through her head as she was leaving her home.

“I just kept thinking go to higher ground. Go to the high school. Everyones always told us to go to the high school. Just thinking about ‘Oh, my cell phone.’ ‘Water.’ You know, they always tell you to be prepared but when are you ever prepared?”

People waited for hours to be told they were safe. The tsunami warning was eventually reduced to an advisory and finally around 4:30 am the Kodiak Police Department declared it was safe for residents to return to their homes.

People shuffled out of the school looking pretty tired, but no worse for ware. Since it was so late the Kodiak Island Borough School District declared there would be no school because of the ordeal.

 

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