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Alaska Shakes

BROKEN GROUND A road south of Wasilla, Alaska, lies shattered after earthquakes on November 30. MARC LESTER—ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS/AP

Earthquakes jolted Anchorage, Alaska, on November 30. Roads crumbled and buildings shook.

Sheila Bailey works in a school cafeteria near Anchorage. “It sounded like the school was breaking apart,” she said.

A magnitude 7.0 quake hit first, at about 8:30 a.m. A 5.7 quake followed within minutes. The temblors set off tsunami alarms for islands and coastal areas south of Anchorage.

But no tsunami arrived. There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries. Roads suffered the worst damage. Sinkholes stopped traffic. Cars were left stranded.

Alaskans knew the damage could have been even worse. On March 27, 1964, the state was rocked by a 9.2 magnitude quake. The tsunami it triggered claimed about 130 lives.

Alaska gets more large quakes than the other 49 states combined. The risk is especially high in southern Alaska. The Earth’s plates slide past each other in that region.

For days, stores were low on supplies. But Alaskans were pulling together, said Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz. “People who might have been reaching for the last item looked over and saw someone else and said, ‘Yes, we are sharing this with you.’”