Lost power, cracked buildings, crumbled chimneys, broken water pipes—the 7.0 earthquake that rocked Anchorage Friday morning was, by one standard at least, its worst in 54 years. "I think it's safe to say that, not measured in magnitude or location but in terms of how strong the ground itself shook during the earthquake," state seismologist Michael West tells CNN. That shaking began at roughly 8:30am and left a trail of damage that surprised even quake-savvy Alaskans. Bridges and roads suffered structural damage as portions of highway collapsed, over two dozen water pipes broke, about 70 people asked the city to cut off water due to flooding, jails were forced to run on generators, and hospitals closed everything but emergency rooms, per the Anchorage Daily News.
"It was very clear that this was something bigger than what we normally experience," says Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. "We live in earthquake country ... but this was a big one." Not only that, some 200 aftershocks struck in the following 12 hours—four measuring at least 4.0. Yet there were no fatalities, in part because the 25-mile-deep quake dissipated much of its energy before hitting the surface, NBC News reports. Building codes inspired by Alaska's "Great 9.2" quake of 1964 also eased the blow: "Had this happened somewhere else, you might have seen deaths," says a geophysics professor. One person who suffered? Former Governor Sarah Palin: "Our family is intact—house is not... I imagine that’s the case for many, many others," she tweets. (Meanwhile, a "slow-moving disaster" threatens a rail line and a freeway.)