NewsMissoula County


Former KPAX reporter describes Alaska earthquake

Posted at 1:45 PM, Dec 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-01 15:45:49-05

MISSOULA – Montana-born reporter Heather Hintze says covering Friday morning’s major quake in Alaska was like trying to shoot video from a moving boat.

But her instincts of getting video first resulted in one of the signature scenes from today’s shakeup. Hintze is a Whitefish High School and University of Montana graduate who started her career as a producer-reporter at KPAX TV.

She was on the sixth floor of the courthouse in downtown Anchorage when the shaking started and told MTN News that it was for the cause of covering the story while hanging on for the ride.

“I thought, well, I should probably roll on this after I felt the first big jolt. And my camera wasn’t on because court hadn’t started yet. So I frantically turned it on and just pressed record and it just happened to be white balanced and focused for some reason,” Hintze said.

“And then I had it on the tripod and the jolting knocked the tripod over. So I grabbed the camera off the tripod and kind of stood there. I don’t know if you’ve ever shot video like on a boat, but it’s kind of like that, where you just plant your feet and just kind of move with the building,” she added.

“I held on to the banister for support, I think. That’s what it looks like. I don’t really remember what happened. And then one of the clerks was under the desk and she was just so scared. She was just sobbing. I just went over and comforted her and said ‘it’s ok. It’s ok. It’s over’,” Hintze said.

“Usually we get big ones that are just kind of one big jolt and they’re over. But when it keeps going like that your mind just kind of goes to ‘but when is it gonna stop’?” Hintze recalled.

“And then actually we had to evacuate. I was on the 6th floor and we had to evacuate and got downstairs and I was shooting video of people evacuating the courthouse and an aftershock hit. And the metal detectors just started screaming,” Hintze added.

“Everybody dove under tables again. So again you’re thinking like ‘how long is this one going to last?’ Because the aftershock was very significant.”

“Everybody’s in pretty good spirits. We went and grabbed some lunch and everyone’s talking. It’s obviously what’s everyone talking about today. ‘Where were you? What did you feel? What kind of damage did you have’?” Hintze said.

“It’s all over social media. People’s posts showing their kitchens, of just bottles of vinegar and things just shattered from the stores. The gas stations are backed up with people fueling up with either propane tanks or their gas tanks.”

“I think everybody’s fine. I mean, it’s Alaska. We’re all kind of used to this. Just not on this kind of magnitude,” Hintze concluded.