Shaking from the large earthquake that shuddered through Anchorage, Alaska last week was strong enough to turn smooth asphalt roads into broken, jagged depressions of rubble. But within just a few days, crews managed to repair the worst of the damage, unsnarling traffic in Alaska’s largest city. Anchorage has a population of nearly 300,000 people spread across more than 1,900 square miles — an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. That space is threaded by roads, asphalt lifelines of the population. When the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck last week, some of the most visceral images showed roads that had broken apart. But within days, many of these same cracked highways had been smoothed back into ribbons of pavement by crews working around the clock. The rapid response to damage in Anchorage shows how investing time and money into preparations for these kinds of large, infrastructure-hobbling events can pay off in the long-run, even when there’s no way to tell when or where disaster may strike. “We have more quakes than any other state in the Union,” says Shannon McCarthy, a spokesperson with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. As a result, Alaska takes its earthquake preparation very seriously. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the country shook Anchorage to its core in 1964, causing a deadly tsunami and leaving in its wake damaged buildings, buckled roads, and a legacy that inspired years of earthquake preparation and policies. Strong building codes put in place post-1964 helped make… [Read full story]
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