Earthquakes are the most unpredictable of all of the natural disasters that we are exploring. They offer little warning or time to prepare for their impact and can range from being small in magnitude to extremely violent and completely destructive.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dominic Hasara of Cremation Society of Alaska about the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Anchorage on the morning of November 30th, 2018. Dominic explained that it started off like any other day, he and his team were busy working in the funeral home embalming and cremating bodies when all of sudden their world was literally rocked by what he described as what sounded like a freight train combined with the ground shaking uncontrollably and then complete darkness. Once the lights came on Dominic and his crematory operator ensured that their facility and team were safe before Dominic attempted to make his way to the hospital to respond to a removal call.
The usually five-minute drive took him nearly him half an hour. Dominic described the scene that followed in Alaska as chaos. He also shared that this was the largest earthquake that he (a Native of Anchorage) has experienced in his life. He stressed that earthquakes are a normal occurrence in his town and that the locals' response is ingrained, however, this particular earthquake really shook things up.
I questioned Dominic about the funeral homes protocol for responding to earthquakes. He explained that due to the fact that Alaska is located along the ring of fire; the natives of Anchorage and other cities of Alaska are accustomed to earthquakes. *The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a large 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes. Because of its geographic proximity to these extremely active underwater volcanoes, Alaska experiences the most earthquakes in the United States.
Dominic explained that due to a large amount of earthquake activity in Anchorage, the building codes require that all funeral and other business establishments are constructed in a way that limits the possibility of injury to inhabitants and patrons. He also explained that his cremation retort is secured to the ground and bolted 6’ deep into concrete to ensure that it does not shift. Other building specifications include special lighting, refrigeration, and other code specific designs.
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our contact page.