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Kenai Peninsula communities report minimal damage following 7.3 quake

Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion

A large earthquake rocked Alaskans in the southcentral region of the state Friday morning. The tsunami warning issued by the National Tsunami Warning Center was canceled a couple of hours after the 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Anchorage. Communities on the Kenai Peninsula are reporting only minimal damage

The National Tsunami Warning Center issued the tsunami warning shortly after the quake struck near Anchorage at about 8:30 a.m. That warning was canceled shortly before 10 a.m.

Michael Burgy with the Tsunami Warning Center said the quake had potential to generate tsunami waves, but they never materialized.

“We confirmed that this earthquake did not generate a tsunami, and we confirmed that tsunamis were not generated by landslides or underwater slumping,” he explained.

The warning covered the central portion of the state, including Anchorage, Kodiak and the Kenai and Alaskan peninsulas.

Homer residents gathered at three temporary shelters. Several schools in the Homer and Seward areas were also evacuated. Pegge Erkeneff is the spokesperson for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. 

“It was a little chaotic when the earthquake hit. We were in contact with all of our schools at our district office through radios,” she said. “As soon the tsunami warning came in, schools began evacuating their children to Homer High School.”

Homer students returned to school around 11 a.m., but the district has canceled all afternoon and evening activates.

The City of Homer did not report any major damage, but the quake did knock out the Homer Police Department’s phone lines. The city and GCI were able to fix the problem. 

No damage was reported in both Kenai and Soldotna. However, Kenai Peninsula Emergency Department Manager Dan Nelson said some minor damage to borough roads was reported on the central peninsula.

“We have some reports from the Nikiski area of some cracks along some of the state roads on the Kenai Spur Highway,” Nelson explained. “We're currently assessing all of our borough roads and the state is assessing their state roads for damage as well.”

The Alaska Department of Transportation is reporting a few cracks along the Sterling Highway and the department closed the Seward Highway at mile marker 112 just south of Anchorage due to a rockslide. The road reopened in the afternoon.  

This story has been updated to include new information about the Homer Police Department phone lines. 

Aaron Bolton has moved on to a new position in Montana; he is no longer KBBI News Director. KBBI is currently seeking a News Director, and Kathleen Gustafson is filling in for the time being.