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Florence man recounts Alaska quake

Posted at 1:41 PM, Dec 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-02 15:44:09-05

MISSOULA – Alaskans are continuing to clean up after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck just seven miles northwest of Anchorage, the state’s largest city, on Friday.

The violent ripples shook buildings and buckled roads, creating a scary scenario for those on the ground.

One Montana man was traveling through the Anchorage International Airport when the pillars of the building started shifting and the people around him started evacuating the airport.

Bill Swendsen of Florence said he held on for dear life, “the fire alarms went off and everyone started yelling evacuate, evacuate,” Swendsen said.

Swendsen, who was on his way to see his daughter in Nome, said he was standing in the security line when the building started to shake.

“You could see the columns in the building moving, the ceiling tiles coming down, water pipes and sewage pipes breaking in the bathroom… it was pretty scary,” Swendsen added.

Swendsen said this feeling lasted for 30-to-40 seconds.

The quake ripped through major roads across the region, including parts of Alaska’s scenic Glenn Highway. Traffic piled up for miles as cars inched past damaged areas.

CBS News correspondent Carter Evans caught up with Governor Bill Walker after he surveyed the damage from above with the Alaska National Guard.

Walker told CBS News it brought back memories of the states devastating 9.2-magnitude earthquake in 1964.

“The sheer strength of an earthquake, that you can crumble a perfectly good highway, that you can buckle a bridge. I mean, it was amazing, the power behind what we saw,” Walker said.

Swendsen is safe and currently waiting for his flight to see his daughter in Nome, on Monday.

He said this flight was not delayed because of the quake, rather just severe weather in the area.