MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Alaska was hit by back-to-back earthquakes today. The more powerful one with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 was centered just north of Anchorage. Images on social media show roads ruptured and ripped apart. TV broadcasts were knocked off the air. The airport was shut down. Schools were closed. At the moment, there are no reports of deaths. To find out more about what is happening, we are joined by Nat Herz of Alaska Public Media. He is in Anchorage. Hi there, Nat.
NAT HERZ, BYLINE: Hi, how's it going?
KELLY: Probably better than your day is going. Tell me where you were today. Could you feel this earthquake as it unfolded?
HERZ: Yeah, I was sitting at a coffee shop, was just reading a book and kind of felt a - initially just felt like sort of a rumble or a buzz. But then things kind of got louder, and things started really shaking and shaking hard. And people were kind of looking around. And then I think, you know, someone went for the door, and everyone else went for the door. And, you know, everyone kind of hurried outside. And kind of once things settled down, everyone went back in.
And, you know, you could see coffee beans had fallen on the floor. There was plaster that had fallen off the wall onto the floor. And the craziest thing was just looking up and seeing the light fixtures. They were these long light fixtures, and even a couple of minutes afterward, they were still swaying back and forth...
KELLY: Oh, wow.
HERZ: ...Which was really creepy.
KELLY: Yeah. And what about the rest of the city? Have you been able to make your way out into the streets and get a sense of the overall state of Anchorage?
HERZ: Yeah. So you know, I spent several hours after the earthquake kind of meandering around, went to the grocery store. You know, it's a big mess there. Power's out in some places. There's some transformers that are blown out.
Kind of the craziest thing that seems to have happened, or one of the craziest things is there's an off-ramp of a major road in town that just collapsed. And, you know, the pavement has sort of broken up into big chunks. And I went over and drove out there and talked to a guy named Chris Reikina (ph), who actually was watching as a car got stranded there. He was in his car.
CHRIS REIKINA: Started to see everything swaying and lights flashing. And then I watched the car in front of us start to sink as the road pushed out to the left. But I was also, you know, trying to, you know, keep my 7-year-old calm.
HERZ: So yeah, that's - I mean, there's some really major damage there. It's not usable. The car that the person was in is just stuck on an island of pavement. And so you know, that's going to be a pretty major job to fix it.
KELLY: What - I mean, give me a sense of perspective because Alaska is vulnerable to earthquakes. You get them every year there. Is this one big in the kind of sense of typical quakes that you have experienced before?
HERZ: Yeah, well, I think, you know, the sort of touchstone for all earthquakes in Alaska is the big one that happened in 1964, which was 9.2. And so it's kind of wild to think about that and honestly a little scary to think about just because the one today felt like such a big thing, and it was still, you know, many times smaller than the one, you know, 50 years ago.
KELLY: That's reporter Nat Herz of Alaska Public Media. Thanks so much.
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