MARCH 27, 1964

GREAT EARTHQUAKE TSUNAMIS DESTROY ALASKA NATIVE VILLAGES, KILL OVER 100

Tsunamis related to the Good Friday Earthquake destroyed or damaged the Alaska Native villages of Kaguyak, Chenega, Old Harbor, Uzinki, and Afognak.  When the quake hit, most Kaguyak villagers retreated up a hill.  Waves that evening, between 30 and 50 feet high, drowned several village men attempting to move skiffs and boats to safety and destroyed all but 3 houses.  Chenega residents were at dinner when the quake struck. Waves of up to 100 feet sent people to the schoolhouse on top of the hill–the only building to survive.  Of 68 residents, 26 were killed.  Uzinki lost 6 residents, but was not as heavily damaged.  In Afognak, structures were damaged, but there was no loss of life.  However, salt water contaminated the village’s water supply, making it uninhabitable.  Receiving a radio alert from Kaguyak, Old Harbor had no fatalities.  Wiped out except for the Orthodox Church, residents rebuilt their village joined by those previously from Kaguyak.  

Sources:  Anjuli Grantham, “Remembering Kaguyak,” Alaska Historical Society, 7/10/2013.  Retrieved, 1/20/2020, https://alaskahistoricalsociety.org/remembering-kaguyak/
 Alysa Landry, “Native History: Earthquake Devastates Native Village of Chenega,” Indian Country Today, 3/27/2017.  Retrieved, 1/20/2020, https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/archive/native-history-earthquake-devastates-native-village-of-chenega-xikNLFtJL0ylC_W4Ym0lrg
 Reuben Kachadoorian, George Plafker, “Effects of the Earthquake of March 27, 1964 on the Communities of Kodiak and Nearby Islands,” U.S. Department of the Interior, 1967.  Retrieved, 1/20/2020, http://dggs.alaska.gov/webpubs/usgs/p/text/p0542f.pdf
Photo:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1964.  Public Domain.

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