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A former Altona resident living in Anchorage, Alaska says life is slowly returning to normal after last week's powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Ryan Friesen and his wife were walking their children to school on the morning of Friday, November 30 when the quake struck.

Friesen said the intensity of the tremor was very unsettling as they tried to maintain their balance while the ground was shaking beneath them.

"Surprisingly, we actually heard the earthquake before we felt it. It sounded like a Jumbo jet was basically buzzing our neighbourhood for maybe 20 to 30 seconds before we felt it, but once it hit, it basically grew in intensity ... an that's when things got uncomfortable. The trees started swaying and dumped all their snow at the same time, creating a white out, which was kind of eerie. We heard the homes in the neighbourhood whine and creak as they were adjusting. There was a lot of movement ... and we actually ended up turning sideways like when you're surfing or standing in a subway car. I'm told it lasted about a minute."

Once the quake was over there was nothing but silence as residents were still hunkered down trying to determine if it was safe to come out, according to Friesen.

He added, he's thankful they were all together as a family when the quake struck and no one was hurt.

The earthquake struck 11 kilometres north of Anchorage, yet no large buildings collapsed, a handful of structure fires were quickly extinguished, and even though many homes and businesses were damaged, there was no loss of life.

"We had some minor damage to our home with some pictures and things falling off of walls and shelves, but nothing major. I know our school district sustained a lot of damage and my son's school is closed until at least next Monday."

Residents are still a little jittery, according to Friesen, as numerous aftershocks have followed in the days after the major quake.

"My kids are still pretty nervous. I think in the 48 hours after the earthquake we've had hundreds of tremors or aftershocks, some of them pretty minor while some were fairly substantial, up to magnitude 5.0, but shorter in duration. We had a couple last night and the kids are obviously nervous and not sleeping well. Even my dog is a wreck, pacing around at night, not sure what's happening."

The experience has forced the family to review its home emergency preparedness plan, according to Friesen.

"We live in a place where earthquakes are a very real possibility and it makes you think about where your gas shut-off is in your house and how to shut off your water. I've now walked my wife through that, because she said she wouldn't know how to do those things. So we're reevaluating our preparedness."


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