Q&A: Historical Tsunami Events

How many people died in Thailand in 2004?

I don’t remember the number just for Thailand, but the total number was 283,000. - Elena Suleimani, Tsunami Modeler/Research Analyst 

I wanted to know how you got from Old Harbor to Kodiak during the Alaskan Tsunami of 1964.

On a crab boat. - Nick Alokli, Kodiak Elder 

After the 1964 tsunami, how long did it take you to get from Old Harbor to Kodiak on the crab boat?

8 hours or 9 hours. - Nick Alokli, Kodiak Elder 

How did you get food and shelter right after the 1964 tsunami?

We were at the base. It was cold; no heat. The next day they brought us up to Anchorage on military planes. - Nick Alokli, Kodiak Elder

Here in Kodiak, [Legs] cooked up a bunch of spaghetti. He used to have spaghetti dinners at the beach. So he cooked up a big pot of spaghetti, I don’t know how many pots but there were a lot of them. - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

I know that Old Harbor was evacuated after the ’64 tsunami; Kodiak was evacuated to Anchorage. What about Akhiok? How was it they had to stay there? What did they do for shelter? Does anyone know?

Maybe the tidal wave didn’t hit Akhiok? [They felt the earthquake, but weren’t actually hit by the wave.] - Nick Alokli, Kodiak Elder 

Did you think about the people in Akhiok during the ’64 tsunami? Did you think the water might have hit Akhiok at all?

I don’t know; it might have come up a little bit. - Phyllis Peterson, Kodiak Elder

Well, if it came from this side it was probably kind of [softened.] - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

Have you been back to Kaguyak since the tsunami in 1964? Is there anything left there?

No. I haven’t gone back to Kaguyak since ’64. I fly over it. All you can see of where our house used to be is two Christmas trees. Nothing else. - Phyllis Peterson, Kodiak Elder

Why is it that people didn’t move back to Kaguyak after the ’64 tsunami? 

No options I guess. The way I see it, it’s too flat. The ocean here, and the bay here, and where our house used to be they both come in. No other way. - Phyllis Peterson, Kodiak Elder

I hear that in Afognak the well water was bad after the ’64 tsunami. Was that one of the reasons people didn’t go back?

I don’t know. Maybe the well water in some places is bad. But they had good water at the site I lived, running. Good water, real good water. Nobody had pipes hooked up yet, it was all running water; you had to run for it. - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

How was the crab fishing after the ’64 tsunami? Did the tsunami have an affect on it?

They were good seasons after the tsunami. We couldn’t keep up. We had to run from here to Soldovia, different places to get crab. - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

Did you lose everything during the Alaskan Tsunami of 1964?

Me, no. I was set-netting then. I had just built a cabin and I thought it was all washed away. It looked like it hadn’t washed away from a distance. We got there in the dark. Vicki and Gloria were with us and we started packing up stuff in the evening, and [my son] says “dad, out house is gone.” There must have been a big wind and it blew it away. We found our roof up on the mountain there. - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

Did the 1964 tsunami change any of the salmon streams?

No. Not where I fished anyhow; except Karluk. I don’t think the tidal wave did that though, it was the storms. There was a long spit, maybe a mile long, and it opened up in one spot, then closed up and open up again. - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

Were people afraid to go out on their boats after the 1964 tsunami? 

No. When you’re fishing you don’t think about that. - Nick Alokli, Kodiak Elder

You learn. You see where it’s safe and where it’s not safe. You do what you have to do. - Teresa Carlson, Kodiak Community Member 

Have you ever gone to take a look at that memorial, out at Spruce Cape?

We have streets named after those boys now. Three of them. - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

When the earthquake started in 1964, did a lot of people run down to get their boats?

Yes. - Dennis Knagin, Kodiak Elder 

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