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'My family and I are very shaken': Former ND family experiences Anchorage earthquake

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Each aftershock is a terrifying reminder, according to Jason and Melissa "Missy" Metzger, a couple formerly of Jamestown and West Fargo who experienced a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Friday, Nov. 30, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Road crew, reporters and residents survey earthquake damage to an offramp on the Minnesota Drive Expressway in Anchorage, Alaska, Nov. 30, 2018. While there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, officials said the magnitude-7 quake, centered nine miles north of the city, had crippled local infrastructure and could take weeks or longer to repair. (Joshua Corbett/The New York Times)

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Each aftershock is a terrifying reminder, according to Jason and Melissa “Missy” Metzger, a couple formerly of Jamestown and West Fargo who experienced a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Friday, Nov. 30, in Anchorage, Alaska.

“Some of them are quite strong,” said Missy Metzger via Facebook Messenger on Sunday, Dec. 2. “Our nerves are very frayed. Every sound or vibration makes us all fear another big one is coming.”

The earthquake struck just 7 miles north of Anchorage at 8:29 a.m. Friday, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. The impact was severe as the earthquake was close to the city of Anchorage and there is a possibility of up to 2,200 aftershocks greater than magnitude 3, according to the Earthquake Center.

“My family and I are very shaken,” Metzger said. “Every sound, every vibration makes us very jumpy. But we know in time this will fade, so we just hold on to each other and pray that the aftershocks stop. They are a constant reminder of the scariest thing that’s ever happened in our lives.”

Jason Metzger is the managing partner for New York Life in Alaska and was working on the 13th story of the building where the business is located when the earthquake struck. The newer building is constructed with ball-bearing rollers to help withstand earthquakes, but there was still some damage, she said.


“It was a very intense situation for him as it is a glass building,” Metzger said.

Jason went home once he accounted for the safety of all his employees, she said. The normal 20-minute drive took three hours with the traffic, and he picked up two stranded people along the way, she said.

Metzger was at home alone with her dog, Dakota. She was on the phone with her brother, Mark, who lives in Idaho, when the earthquake started.

“I was walking between rooms and it got very loud, uncomfortably loud,” Metzger said. “It was as though a dump truck was right beside you but much, much louder.”

The floor started to move and she started to lose her balance. She set the phone on the back of the couch and yelled to her brother, “Mark, we are having a huge earthquake!”

Metzger said she started to pray out loud for God to be with her and the family. The entire house was shaking violently, cabinets were tipping over and everything was falling off of the walls, shelves and cupboards.

“I was on my knees holding on to the couch, praying and absolutely terrified,” Metzger said.

The family moved to Anchorage in August but had only recently completed unpacking.


Metzger experienced her first earthquake just one week earlier when she was driving. It was a slight tremor that caused the car to slide across the lane a little bit.

Friday was something else entirely.

After a minute or two the major quake and the strongest aftershocks were over, she said. The power was out and sunrise wasn’t until around 9:45 a.m. in Anchorage, so she used the flashlight app on her phone to inspect the destruction.

The Metzgers’ children, Jacob, 16, and Jenna, 13, were at separate schools when the quake struck, she said. Both schools were damaged, she said.

Jacob was released from school once the major aftershocks stopped and drove himself home. Metzger drove to pick up Jenna.

“The kids had to be outside in the parking lot due to the water main breaks,” Metzger said. “The public schools are closed for at least Monday and Tuesday.”

The power and water were out for around 12 hours on Friday. The house did not have heat, and with temperatures just below freezing the family stayed the day at a neighbor’s home with a wood-burning stove.

The family stayed together on the main floor of their own home Friday night. They spent the next day cleaning up broken glass and putting things back in place.


“We do have some external damage to our home, but we are hoping that it is largely superficial,” Metzger said.

Some stores are open but supplies are low on several things, Metzger said. Raised on a North Dakota farm, she said she is accustomed to keeping a good stock of the essentials and does not foresee any problems with shortages.

“We are still having to boil our water out of precaution,” Metzger said. “We are very hopeful that over the next few days as the aftershocks continue to subside life will start to get back to normal.”

Metzger works as a recruiter for Jason but was concentrating on getting the family settled after moving from West Fargo to Eagle River, Alaska, a municipality within the city of Anchorage.

“We move with work every few years,” she said.

Jason and Missy did not leave the neighborhood until Sunday to check on the condition of Jason’s office building. They rely on social media to hear from others around Anchorage.

There are several bridges over the Eagle River that are damaged and some are closed, Metzger said. This may slow transportation to the rest of Anchorage, she said.

“Eagle River was very close to the epicenter, and we are very fortunate that no one has lost their lives.”

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