This great earthquake and ensuing tsunami took 131 lives , and caused
about $2.3 billion in property losses. Earthquake effects were heavy in many
towns, including Anchorage, Chitina, Glennallen, Homer, Hope, Kasilof, Kenai,
Kodiak, Moose Pass, Portage, Seldovia, Seward, Sterling, Valdez, Wasilla, and Whittier.
The earthquake was accompanied by a vertical displacement over an area of about
520,000 square kilometers. The major area of uplift trended northeast from the southern
Kodiak Island to Price William Sound and trended east-west to the east of the sound.
Vertical displacements ranged from about 11.5 meters of uplift to 2.3 meters of
subsidence relative to sea level. Off the southwest end of Montague Island, there
was absolute vertical displacement of about 13 - 15 meters. Uplift also occurred
along the extreme southeast coast of Kodiak Island, Sitkalidak Island, and over part
or all of Sitkinak Island. This zone of subsidence covered about 285,000 square
kilometers, including the north and west parts of Prince William Sound, the west
part of the Chugach Mountains, most of Kenai Peninsula, and almost all the Kodiak Island group.
Anchorage, about 120 kilometers northwest of the epicenter, sustained the most severe
damage to property. About 30 blocks of dwellings and commercial buildings were damaged
or destroyed in the downtown area. The J.C. Penney Company building was damaged beyond
repair; the Four Seasons apartment building, a new six-story structure, collapsed; and
many other multistory buildings were damaged heavily. The schools in Anchorage were almost
devastated. The Government Hill Grade School, sitting astride a huge landslide, was almost
a total loss. Anchorage High School and Denali Grade School were damaged severely. Duration
of the shock was estimated at 3 minutes.
Landslides in Anchorage caused heavy damage. Huge slides occurred in the downtown business
section, at Government Hill, and at Turnagain Heights. The largest and most devastating
landslide occurred at Turnagain Heights. An area of about 130 acres was devastated by
displacements that broke the ground into many deranged blocks that were collapsed and
tilted at all angles. This slide destroyed about 75 private houses. Water mains and gas,
sewer, telephone, and electrical systems were disrupted throughout the area.
This shock generated a tsunami that devastated many towns along the Gulf of Alaska,
and left serious damage at Alberni and Port Alberni, Canada, along the West Coast of
the United States (15 killed), and in Hawaii. The maximum wave height recorded was 67
meters at Valdez Inlet. Seiche action in rivers, lakes, bayous, and protected harbors
and waterways along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas caused minor damage. It was
also recorded on tide gages in Cuba and Puerto Rico.