50 years ago, Homer saw opportunities following disaster

From the Homer News 

April 1, 1964

Homer and the entire state of Alaska have suffered a disaster the magnitude of which has seldom been known in the world. We must all remember that in the first confusion that many exaggerations and false rumors are bound to be spread. We’re not discounting the terrible effects of this tragedy; however, let us stop for a moment and think of the possible good that can come from this.

We have lost our small boat harbor and the Spit seems to have a dubious future, but the small boat harbor had many faults which undoubtedly will be corrected, and the first reports of the entire Spit sinking are greatly exaggerated. We feel confident that the United States government will give assistance and that the boat harbor and the Spit will be better than ever.

Homer can be thankful that our damage was light and that all our main facilities are still in good working order. From this disaster, the eyes of the entire Kenai Peninsula will be focused on Homer, for we will have to act as the central distribution point for supplies for the entire Kenai. We cannot help but grow in stature and importance.

We are sure also that the south 48 will get solidly behind us; after all, if we can afford to pour money by the buckets into foreign countries, we can certainly afford to take care of one of our own states. From a doubtful working year we now have changed to the prospect of full employment for everyone; we have to in order to rebuild.

So let us not despair but rather let us all look to the future and work together to build a better Homer and a better Alaska.

• • • • • • •

As we reflect on the earthquake of 1964 and hear the remembrances of those who lived through it, one message rings clear: Alaska residents were resilient.

Maybe, they had no choice. They could either despair of the destruction caused by the quake or get to work rebuilding. So, they rebuilt.

Alaskans of 1964 weren’t used to all the comforts and conveniences that Alaskans of 2014 enjoy. While our reputation may still be one of ruggedness and self-reliance, we’re skeptical that a majority of us could weather a disaster on the scale of the 1964 earthquake with skill.

That’s why we appreciate the work being done to help Alaskans be as prepared as possible for the next big quake. 

Alaskans are invited to test their readiness by participating in a Great Alaska Shakeout Drill today. Your involvement can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. On the simple side, it’s a matter of practicing the earthquake safety drill, “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” It goes like this: Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table; hold on to it until the shaking stops. On the complex side, it’s a matter of looking at your emergency supplies and making sure your family knows what to do. 

It won’t be possible to prepare after a big quake happens; we need to do it now. That preparation has several benefits. For one, the better prepared we are, the less likely we’ll need help from others. Being prepared also helps reduce the stress of a disaster. 

A good resource is ready.alaska.gov. 

On the 50th anniversary of the big quake, it seems reasonable to consider what the disaster experts always say: “It’s not if Alaska will face another earthquake disaster, it’s more a question of when.” 

Are you ready?