After the quake on Jan. 24, John Chapple III photographed this crack in ice at Caribou Lake.-Photo by John Chapple III

After the quake on Jan. 24, John Chapple III photographed this crack in ice at Caribou Lake.-Photo by John Chapple III

Damage minimal, but quake still memorable

  • By Michael Armstrong and Anna Frost
  • Thursday, January 28, 2016 10:05am
  • NewsLocal News

Sunday morning’s quake broke bottles and pottery, popped open beer taps and kept people up for hours  if they weren’t already up. Here are some anecdotes about the quake.

Alibi Bar

Not everyone who went through Sunday’s quake was in bed. When the earthquake shook Homer, The Alibi bar on East Pioneer Avenue had a full house and for a moment it seemed like the dancing just got extra rowdy. 

After a few seconds, the dancing stopped. People looked at one another and asked the obvious, “Is there an earthquake?” 

The biggest surprise was how long the shaking lasted. No one ducked for doorframes or under tables. Aside from the quaking building, everything else was normal. No bottles fell from the suspended shelves around the bars, no glasses dropped. It almost seemed as if the bar was on an amusement park ride for the lack of danger most of the patrons felt.

From the reaction after the earthquake finished, it seemed like some didn’t even notice that it had happened at all. The dancing and drinking continued, and most did not notice owner Nelton Palma going outside to check the foundation for damage. None was found though, so business continued as usual. One Alibi patron even apologized to his friends later in the morning — he thought they were playing a prank on him when they mentioned the earthquake. He hadn’t even noticed it happening around him.

Grog Shop

The East End Grog Shop was not as lucky. Several liquor and wine bottles and cases of beer broke, leaving the air thick with the aroma of alcohol. A $300 bottle of Cristal champagne survived a fall, but a lot of lesser brands crashed and shattered. The walk-in sustained the most damage, with all the beer on the bottom of the stacks crushed, and several broken bottles on the floor, coating the space with a layer of beer and glass.

“They didn’t tumble over. They danced over,” Grog Shop owner Mel Strydom said of broken bottles.

Strydom said he had about $1,000 in damages at his stores, the Grog Shop, the Grog Shop East on East End Road, and the Rum Locker on Ohlson Lane.

There was no damage to his buildings, Strydom said.

“Nobody got hurt. Everything’s working,” Strydom said.

On Sunday morning, the Pioneer Avenue Grog Shop still smelled of spilled liquor.

“We had to mop the store twice to get all the goo up,” Strydom said.

A woman came into the East End Grog Shop to purchase beer and cider and mentioned that while her structure wasn’t damaged, several things inside her house had broken.

“Well,” she said, “At least my place is earthquake proof now. There’s nothing left to break.”

Fat Olives

Fat Olives owner Tiny Nolan said he noticed a curious effect at the restaurant with broken plates and glasses. There seemed to be a line of damage going through the restaurant, he said.

“You know how you see a tornado go through a town and things on the right are OK, things on the left aren’t? That’s how it was in the restaurant,” Nolan said.

Alice’s Champagne Palace

Alice’s Champagne Palace on Pioneer Avenue lost about two kegs of beer when several taps opened during the earthquake, said manager Josh Tobin.

“I guess the vibration shook the tap handles enough they opened,” he said.

AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse and Tavern

AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse and Tavern also had minor damage from broken bottles, said owner Adrienne Sweeney. Sweeney also owns the Driftwood Inn and several guest houses, all fully occupied with events like the Besh Cup ski race.

“I had to get with the guests and make sure everybody was OK,” she said. “Everybody was fine.”

Old Sterling Highway, Anchor Point

Great Alaska Earthquake survivor Josephine Rice called the Iniskin Quake the biggest one she’s been through since she was a girl living in Rabbit Creek in 1964. Like a lot of people, she stayed in bed at her cabin on the Old Sterling Highway in Anchor Point.

“I felt like the ground kept moving after the earthquake was over just because of the slowing vibration,” she said. “I was afraid to get up because I’d been in earthquakes that seemed to slow down and then they picked up again.”

Rice, who paints and decorates vases and ornaments, has a shelf with boxes of her work running around a room in her cabin.

“I just had visions of being ankle deep in glass by the time the quake was over,” she said.

Nothing broke but a mug she got in Mexico, she said.

Caribou Lake

John Chapple III and his wife Peggy went through the quake at their Caribou Lake cabin. He called the quake “a real gut rumbler,” as he said his father, John Chapple Jr., would say.

“It’s definitely the biggest quake I ever felt. It was the only one that ever felt like was half scary. I was wondering if it was going to stop,” he said.

Their cabin is set on blocks.

“We’re happy the cabin didn’t go downhill. The stairs kind of went downhill. I went out the next monring and one side of the stairs was bobbing,” he said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com. 

Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com.

A $300 bottle of Cristal champagne fell off a shelf at the Grog Shop, but miraculously was unbroken.-Photo by Mel Strydom, Grog Shop

A $300 bottle of Cristal champagne fell off a shelf at the Grog Shop, but miraculously was unbroken.-Photo by Mel Strydom, Grog Shop

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