Last week I wrote a little story on a possible out come to an EMP attack. The plan was this week to write about some possible solutions to said EMP.
That went right out the window. I (Along with most of out dishes!) Friday morning at 0829 hrs AKST. Anchorage was hit by a 7.0 earthquake. Praise what ever deity you worship. No serious injury nor loss of life happened. Yes some houses were lost. Major roads were destroyed. The Alaska Railroad is shut down. And aftershocks are still keep us on edge 48 hours later. Our house did well. A lot of cracked sheet rock and some popped trim on the outside. Others not so lucky. A few collapses a lot separated walls and roof’s All the schools damaged and shut down. A lot of the high rises in downtown lost glass.
So what went right and what went wrong.
The Anchorage disaster management team did awesome. APD AFD Alaska State Troopers and Joint Base Elemendorf Richardson responded perfectly. The people of Anchorage. A 7.0 major damage in the city. No power gas or water. No. Looting. No Riots. People helping people with out being told. The Anchorage Amateur Radio Club. KQFD Radio and KTVA TV No panic. No hysteria over the radio nor TV. Clear concise information. AFB hit back hard to the few fires that broke out and nailed them with no spreading and minimal property damage. There could not have been a scripted disaster. Everything for the most part worked.
Every grocery store was shut down. Massive damage to most of them. A few managed to stay open and handed out water to residents. A good portion of residents did not have basic preps. Water Food Clothing. Facebook had pleas for help for water shelter food even one for a plane ticket out. A lot of people had no plan nor back up plan.
I’m not going to harp on other people’s shortcomings. I’m going to talk about what ME and MY family did right and did wrong.
Cellphone networks in Alaska are weak on a GOOD day. Add in a major quake and the network collapsed. Here is a post I made later that day on Facebook.
Going to preach a little here. Who had a hard time with cell service and lost landline? Trying to call home from JBER and kept getting network failure. GCI. Was overloaded. Grabbed a 25 buck 2 meter radio and was in instant contact with family. Take the time to get your ham license. It costs 15 bucks and its free. You can get a Baofeng 2 meter 70cm radio for 25 bucks on Amazon. I could talk with people down to Homer and up to Fairbanks on the repeater network. Radio will work when phones don’t.
Over all what we had worked. My youngest (He is 18) made me so proud. Parents worry about kids listening to them. I ALWAYS do. Well Ryan listened to my preaching. He took care of his mom. He got our preps together got the garage opened. He got the dogs together and truck loaded. Found the radios tuned to NOAA on on channel and the main repeater on the other. Got the gas and water shut off. He ignored the panic calls on the radio saying another aftershock BIGGER than the original was forecast. He did all of this while I was at work on JBER (Joint Base Elemendorf Richardson) and his older brother was at work at Alaska Blood bank. My oldest took charge at the blood bank. Got them organised, got management calmed down off their butts and got things running. My wife even though she was slightly injured and we had our own issues, was checking on neighbors. My family is the greatest on this planet.
Things we need to fix.
When we moved here we had to leave most of our preps behind. Not making excuses. But by my normal standards we were unprepared.
More water in the house. We had only about 20 gallons plus what was in the toilet tanks. We had 4 5 gallon water jugs. The water bottles that are for dispensers. To light of duty for SHTF. One cracked. And we were down to about 17 gallons. Also lesson learned. The nice straw type water filters. They work GREAT. Everywhere but Alaska. Most of our rivers are glacier fed. Nice and cold. And FULL of glacial silt. The water from the Eagle River was silty as hell from the quake and it killed the filter after about 4 gallons. Need to stock pre-filters to drop the silt.
Move to a house that has back up heat! We live off of Driftwood Bay in Eagle River. Nice place. but it is a town house there is no where to store a lot of preps. and has a cute but useless gas fireplace. This one is self explanatory. Our house is NOT A PREPPER HOUSE. ‘Nuff said
We had back up oil lamps but with the aftershocks were not thrilled about using them. Need more battery lamps. Oil lamps are the go to for preppers for SHTF. But when Mother Earth is doing the Dance Fever Boogie, we kept them in their bubble wrapped boxes. We had 1 battery lantern. More battery powered lanterns are to be stocked. So a flashlight pointed at the ceiling does wonders. Also we want to find older incandescent bulb lanterns. One of the LED lanterns died when it hit the floor. Took it apart Saturday and the circuit board that controls it cracked. An incandescent lantern may have broke the bulb. But you do keep spares right?
Getting rid of SOME the newer LED flashlights. Some fell hard and died. The old $1.95 plastic D cell lights worked. In defense of the LED lights. The ones that died were the 3 for 7 bucks ones from Tractor Supply out of 6 2 broke on impact. In going to get some of the older higher quality incandescent flashlights. Partially for durability. Partially for the EMP safety. You all DID read the EMP story right?
Force my wife and youngest to get their ham license. I have a “club” license and that is what she used to talk with me.
This is one I am going back and forth on. In a full scale SHTF Who the hell cares if you have a tech general or NO license? The main reason is to get them up to speed and comfortable in using the radio and talking over it and using proper radio etiquette . No not to impress people on the radio. You get better, faster and more accurate information by following established procedures.
Better packaging for grabbing and going. The big Rubbermaid boxes are cool. They work and are strong. But another lesson learned. Do not pack your boxes heavier than your oldest or weakest adult can lift. My wife is partially disabled. We used to be avid snowboarders decades ago. She had a bad fall and compressed her lower back. Fast forward almost 30 years and she can not lift as she used to. A 18 gallon tote is 24×16 x17 and weighs up to 45 to 50 lbs fully loaded. She could not move them safely with out compromising her health for further SHTF operations. Its going to be a work in progress to find the right balance to potability and the amount of containers for a bug out.
Clothing. One of our weakest areas was bug out clothes. We did not have everything in one area. Coats were in one spot. Gloves in another over boots in a 3rd. Things were not separated and easy to get to. Need to designate bugout clothes
This Is just hot wash of the event. More went right than went wrong. The best is no on died from the quake in the Anchorage area. We consider ourselves very lucky. We survived to re exam the entire process find solutions to problems. To up grade equipment and buy newer and better items.
One last item. The young airmen at work would make fun of my pack I carried everywhere. Until the quake. Then my trauma kit, 2 MRE’s Canteen Glo Sticks Flashlights Para cord Knife nylon long johns 2 pair of socks Baofeng radio. 2 pair of underwear gloves and watch cap. (Kids call them beanies now)Then the old Army Sergeant was not so odd after all. When I called my wife by radio by passing the phone. Lucky for me we were in line of sight to each other and was able to connect direct instead of clogging the repeater network. A 5 watt real Ham radio is MUCH better than a FRS GMRS radio with ¼ watt of power
It is very difficult to plan 100% for ANY disaster. Do not let yourself get bogged down in a 1 dimension disaster. Some plan to bug in. Some plan to bug out. Plan for both. What happens to your preps if you plan to bug in and an earthquake takes your house. Or fire like California. Or if you have your preps at your bug out location and fire storm flood or people prevent you from leaving your house. We got lucky. We survived. The Northridge quake of 1994. it was a 6.7. The Quake in Anchorage was a 7.0. Only 3 tenths of a magnitude greater. But 3 times as powerful. 57 people died in California. Zero in Anchorage. We were very lucky in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. There was no looting. No rioting. Citizens helped each other. Neighbors helped each other. Differences between people ended for that day.
Alaska is a tough place to live. This quake highlighted that. The Port of Anchorage was damaged slightly. A HUGE BLESSING. 95% of EVERYTHING used in Alaska comes to that port or the one in Juneau, So supplies are flowing in. The bad is there is only a few highways in Alaska.
The Glenn is the main and only road out of Anchorage to the interior of Alaska. IT sustained heavy damage in Eagle River, Peters Creek and at Wasilla. The Alaska Railroad north of Wasilla is heavily damaged. It is the ONLY method for heavy freight to make it to the interior. The Al-Can can not support the traffic needed. All the grocery stores sustained damage of one form or another. 2 of the chains, Cars-Safeway and Fred Meyers maintain warehouses in the state. Walmart does a lot of “Just in time ordering” let that sink in a bit.
Disasters are serious business. I don’t mean to sound mean snobbish stuck up or like an ass. But if you survive you have the opportunity to learn, make adjustments and do better next time.
The Following images are from The Alaska Life
Next week we’ll get back to the EMP Discussion. Unless Alaska decides to do something else!