This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
The Kenai Peninsula sustained minor damage and no life-threatening injuries after Friday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake.
In a statement released Monday, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce said the peninsula experienced damage to roads, especially in Nikiski along the Kenai Spur Highway. Some borough buildings and schools had minimal damage, but most of the immediate issues were resolved on Friday, Pierce said in his statement.
“This week we will continue structural evaluations to be sure that none of the buildings have any further issues to be sure and keep our students and residents safe,” Pierce said in the statement.
Pegge Erkeneff, communications liaison with the school district, said the district’s facilities received minimal damage.
“We don’t plan to close any schools; we feel confident that schools are safe, or they wouldn’t be open,” Superintendent Sean Dusek said in a statement. “The two-hour delay start on Monday was weather-related, not from the earthquake.”
Borough maintenance fixed a minor leak in the Kenai Central High School heating system. The school remained in session. Nikiski Middle/High School was released early on Friday following the earthquake because of a loss of water pressure caused by a power outage. A minor water leak in the heating system was also patched. Tebughna School in Tyonek suffered a substantial loss of ceiling tiles in the gym, which caused an early release on Friday. Hope School was released early on Friday, following a water and propane gas leak. Paul Banks Elementary and West Homer Elementary had gas leaks at their boilers, which were isolated, patched and repaired. The schools remained in session.
Chapman School in Ninilchik also reported a minor gas leak, which was repaired, Erkeneff said.
Erkeneff said most of the damage at borough schools was addressed on Friday.
“All damage except the ceiling damage was either repaired or patched by the end of the day,” Erkeneff said. “Permanent repairs for temporary patches will be completed within the next few weeks.”
She said several schools have minor cracking and will be looked over by borough maintenance and a structural engineer, which will take several weeks.
Jack Blackwell is the superintendent for the State Parks Department in the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound area. He said the Eagle Rock Boat Launch access road, in between Kenai and Soldotna, was damaged by a landslide, triggered by the earthquake.
“Half of the hill slid into the wetlands below,” Blackwell said. “We were closed for the season so there were no vehicles or people in the area.”
He said the State Parks Department engineers will look over the damaged road and assess further damage.
Mayor Pierce said the borough will continue to improve emergency response in the case of another similar event in the future. Pierce said residents can help by being prepared, keeping emergency supplies at home, vehicles fueled and helping each other during times of emergency.
If residents see any significant damage to property, including their own, reach out to www.kpb.us/emergency or call 262-4910. The borough encourages residents to take photos or videos of any damage or losses. Additional assistance from the state may become available.