MAT-SU — Hours after the powerful earthquake that rocked Southcentral Alaska, authorities across the Valley assessed damage and Mat-Su residents stocked up on water and gasoline.
According to the U.S. Tsunami Warning System, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 hit at 8:29 a.m., with an origin 30 miles southwest of Palmer.
Just after 11 a.m., Michael Taylor was among a crowd of people at the Palmer Fred Meyer store. Taylor purchased several cases of water amid a horde of like-minded customers. He said that he has five kids and their well is working but he wanted to be prepared just in case. He said that his kids were "freaked out" at the onset of the quake but this day served as a good time to talk to them about emergency preparedness so they can start thinking about what to do during the next crisis.
"It's good for them. It's a firsthand learning experience," Taylor said.
At the Carrs/Safeway gas station in Palmer, John Stewart filled several gas cans in the bed of his truck amid a mass of vehicles lined up to do the same. He said that he was on his way to work in Anchorage when the earthquake hit.
"Normally you don't feel it in a moving vehicle but my truck shook pretty good,” Stewart said.
Stewart also had several cases of water in his truck bed. He said that he is going to share some gas with his neighbors who found out their generator was empty.
"We got power but you never know... Gas and water are what you need to survive," Stewart said.
An employee of the Carrs/Safeway grocery store in Palmer said the store was closed as a precaution. At the Carrs/Wasilla store in Wasilla, a crew was cleaning up broken glass mid-day Friday. Windows on the front of the store shattered during the earthquake.
According to Mat-Su Borough School District officials, structural engineers were at local schools Friday morning to access any damage. The district also has announced that most of the schools in the district will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
Only Glacier view, Trapper Creek Elementary, Talkeetna Elementary, Susitna Valley High School, Willow Elementary and Beryozova will remain open, according to a post on the district’s Facebook page.
This is a developing story. Continue to see frontiersman.com for more.
Frontiersman editor Jeremiah Bartz, Frontiersman publisher Dennis Anderson and Frontiersman reporters Jacob Mann and Tim Rockey all contributed to this report.