106°F
weather icon Clear

Alaska quake damages infrastructure at sprawling air base

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Last week’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake near Anchorage caused multiple problems at the sprawling Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, including damage to steel frameworks, ceilings, and sprinkler and heating systems, military officials said Friday.

But as with the rest of the earthquake zone, there were no deaths, serious injuries or widespread catastrophic damage.

In fact, Air Force Lt. Col. Jacob Leck, who is originally from Idaho, expected far worse in his first-ever earthquake, he said Friday during a news briefing on the impact of the Nov. 30 quake that struck 7 miles north of Anchorage. Such was the force felt during the quake, which has been followed by thousands of aftershocks.

“I thought for sure that we had significant damage and that it was going to be a catastrophic loss of some facilities,” said Leck, commander of the 773D Civil Engineer Squadron and director of the base emergency operations center. “And to this date, we have not found anything of the magnitude that I ever expected.”

The base, home to a squadron of F-22 Raptor fighter jets, was quickly ready to receive aircraft. Three C-130s landed within an hour after the quake, according to officials.

Damages at the base are still being assessed, with a subsurface assessment planned by an airfield pavement evaluation team heading to Alaska from Tyndall Air Force Base in California, officials said.

Base officials unveiled damage to a swimming pool room in a base fitness building during Friday’s briefing. Ceiling panels were still missing, and the floor near the empty pool was littered with debris. The building is among several that remain closed at the base.

The 123-square-mile base, located on Anchorage’s north side, is home to about 1,000 buildings, plus another 3,200 housing units. Only one household was displaced, and that was because of a water outage.

None of the seven bridges on base was damaged.

The base has provided emotional support to those who need it, said Col. Michael Staples, commander of the 673D Civil Engineering Group. “The chaplain has been very busy,” he said.

The main earthquake damaged structures over a wide of the temblor’s impact zone area in Anchorage and beyond, disrupting power and cracking roads.

 


As of early Friday afternoon, there had been more than 3,100 aftershocks, including 15 with a magnitude of 4.5 and above, according to seismologist Natalia Ruppert with the Alaska Earthquake Center.

Anchorage police warned Friday that rockfalls were still occurring along a 6-mile stretch of the cliff-lined Seward Highway.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Comic-Con founders reflect on 50 years of memories

No one expected their culture would ever become mainstream when a few hundred comic book and science fiction enthusiasts and creators gathered in the basement of a San Diego hotel 49 years ago.

Fifth Amazon’s Prime Day lifting many retail boats

The gravitational pull of Amazon Prime Day is so strong on shoppers it’s benefiting other retailers as well, according to an early analysis from a key data group.

Facebook’s currency proposal gets hostile reception in Congress

A Facebook executive on Tuesday defended the social network’s ambitious plan to create a digital currency and pledged to work with regulators to achieve a system that protects the privacy of users’ data.

Expert captures elusive alligator at Chicago lagoon

The alligator had a good run as day after day the people hunting for him in a Chicago lagoon came up empty, but in the end he was no match for an expert the city shipped in from Florida.

Trump abortion referrals rule seen as blow against Planned Parenthood

Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must immediately stop referring women for abortions, the Trump administration says, advancing its effort to remake government policy on reproductive health.

Lawmaker seeks to expand compensation from nuclear weapons testing

A compensation program for those exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining would be expanded under legislation to address fallout across the western U.S. and somce Pacific islands.

US fears Iran seized UAE-based oil tanker

Tracking data shows an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz drifted off into Iranian waters and stopped transmitting its location more than two days ago, raising concerns Tuesday about its status.