ICYMI: Senator Murkowski Speaks on Alaska’s 7.0 Earthquake

One week ago today, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck a few miles north of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, causing severe damage to infrastructure, roads, schools, businesses, and homes. Within days, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was on the ground in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley to assess the damage and to meet with emergency responders to help determine the federal response. This week, Senator Murkowski spoke on the Senate floor after returning from her Alaska trip to recount some of the visible damage of the earthquake and to share efforts underway to rebuild.

 Earthquake Floor Speech 2

(Click here for video of Senator Murkowski’s floor speech.)

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Earthquake Floor Speech Image 2

Standing at the edge of the severely damaged Vine Road in Wasilla.

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Assessing the structural damage of Houston Middle School, which has been deemed unsafe for students to return to for the remainder of the school year.

Speech excerpts:

  • “You think about the words when you're trying to describe something that the scenes are just so, so difficult, and it is words like gut wrenching, astounding, and remarkable. But it was really gut wrenching being in Houston Middle School. This is one of the schools that will not be opened, at least not this year, and perhaps longer. You're standing in a building and you see all of the books that have fallen to the floor. You see the guts of the ceiling that have come out, the sprinkler system has activated. Not only do you have the chaos of the books, but you have the saturation.”
  • “This is cinder block construction in the school and the actual concrete cinders popping out, crashing to the floor, and breaking. There are metal struts coming out of the ceiling, the panels.”
  • “This is all happening at 8:29 in the morning. It's dark in Alaska at 8:29 in the morning. The lights have now gone out and you have this crashing all around you. And when I use the word remarkable to describe some of it, it's remarkable about how the students responded, how the teachers responded, the calm. The kids knew what to do. They got under their desks. They did what they were trained to do. And then when they got the order that they needed to get out to evacuate, what they did was exactly what they were trained to do and no injury -- no injury. It's absolutely extraordinary.”
  • “So you're standing here on these slabs of asphalt, the crevasses are extraordinary and you realize the intensity of the action of the earth. So you see scenes like this and you say, ‘You know, how are we going to get through all of this?’ And the work that is ongoing now, whether it is the onramps, whether it's the bridges, whether it's the roads like this on Vine Road, our Department of Transportation is working to firm up the roads to, believe it or not, fill it in, repave them, even restripe them and get folks back on their way. It is absolutely, extraordinarily impressive what we have seen in those initial 72 hours.”
  • “I'm very grateful that we had no tsunami. I'm very grateful that the damages, at least on the surface, are not worse. And we're certainly thankful that there were no reports of serious injuries. We have partners that are committed to help us in any way they can. We know we're tough in Alaska. That's a reputation that we have. We're kind of proud of that. We know we're hardy and resilient, but knowing that others are going to be with us as we go through this recovery period makes that much better.”

Click here for text of the full speech.