‘I’m still scared’: Reaction from Clevelanders near epicenter of Alaska quake

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Students dove under their desks and workers ran from buildings as a monster 7.0 earthquake violently rocked Anchorage Friday morning.

The quake was centered about 5 miles north of Alaska’s most populous city and within a tectonic plate that causes the biggest earthquakes in the U.S.

Officials are reporting widespread damage, especially the infrastructure and roadways. Many roads were buckled and ripped apart into jagged cliffs.

“We were in the kitchen and it felt like the floor falling,” said Preston Bettis, from Cleveland, who was visiting his grandkids, daughter and son-in-law at Fort Richardson Army Base.

Bettis was supposed to return to Northeast Ohio Friday, but after the earthquake, the airport shut down and his flight was cancelled.

“It was the scariest thing I ever witnessed and I’m still scared,” said Bettis.

The aftershocks were just as scary. Some had a magnitude of 5.0.

Traffic lights were knocked down and many homes left without power.

“We were pretty nervous,” said John Ruhlin, who is from Cleveland, but now teaches at West Anchorage High School.

Students frequently practice “earthquake drills” and knew just what do.

“I’ve never seen a group of 32 students move that fast; they shot under the desks,” said Ruhlin. Their building suffered only minor damage, but he says others were much worse.

Water lines and gas lines were broken. Ceiling tiles and lights fell to the ground. All classes are cancelled until next Wednesday so they can survey the extent of the destruction and make necessary repairs.

“We’ve had some memorable earthquakes, but I’ve never experienced anything as strong or unnerving as that earthquake,” said John.

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