A severe 7.0 earthquake has struck Alaska, near it’s biggest city Anchorage.
The quake struck at 8.30 am local time today.
A series of aftershocks have been recorded and are still counting.
The quake has caused severe damage including broken highways and landslides. A tsunami warning was also issued.
Anchorage Samoan resident Tu’u Galea’i describes the horror she felt when the quake hit:
“It was so frightening,” she says.
“There was a Poly lady on the radio crying saying ‘I don’t know what to do, this was my first time experiencing an earthquake.'”
She says the Pacific community are remaining vigilant but she is apprehensive that this is not over.
“We’ve stocked up with H20 & have lots of food. Batteries, candles, flash lights etc and emergency bags packed with clothes, blankets and jackets.”
Another Samoan resident Marie Christina Tauauvea describes her fear when the earthquake hit as it bought back vivid memories of the 2009 Samoa earthquake which triggered that tsunami.
“The earthquakes today were back to back of course, the aftershock was just another earthquake to me.
“I was scared because this earthquake was way stronger than the one that happened back in 2009 in Samoa when I was living there a decade ago.”
Alaskans Pacific Islanders make up about 2 percent of the overall population. The city of Anchorage alone has a population of 300,000 residents where many Pacific Islanders live according to 2017 statistics.
This Pacific population had spiked around 2010 due to the economic benefits in Alaska particularly the thriving fishing industry.
As of last year, the fishing industry in Alaska employs over 60,000 workers.
Seafood is by far Alaska’s top export with more than 4 billion pounds going to 105 countries in 2016, valued at over $3 billion.
In addition, Alaska’s close proximity to places like Hawaii and California make it attractive place for Pacific Islanders to migrate to.
In 2014, Samoan was the fourth spoken language in Anchorage School District behind English, Spanish and Hmong.
The cultural presence in Anchorage runs strong with Pacific Community initiatives in full swing and the popular Polynesian Flag Dag running every year.