"It's pretty upsetting" - Eagle River families struggle to rebuild after quake

Published: Nov. 11, 2019 at 10:16 AM AKST
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Part 2 in our series One Year Later. Find the other stories here.

Morgan Fredericksen's family home is boarded up. Construction crews come and go, nailing on beams and installing windows. Most of the home's drywall has to be repaired.

"Basically down to the guts," Fredericksen said about the reconstruction of his home.

On a recent weekday, he showed a reporter the extensive repairs his home is undergoing to fix the damage from the 7.1 earthquake that struck Southcentral Alaska on November 30.

Fredericksen says he was at work when the quake hit. While he swayed back and forth inside his tall office building in Anchorage, he assumed his home would be fine.

But, when he returned to Eagle River, he had to force his way into his house through a pile of debris clogging the entry. He was shocked by what he saw.

"It was probably this deep," Fredericksen said pointing to his thighs, "full of glass, broken glass and syrup and stuff. All sorts of stuff."

Almost a year later he and his family are living in a hotel in Anchorage. He hopes to be back to his normal life, inside his family home in Eagle River sometime before Christmas.

"The bill on it now is about $260,000 worth of damage," Fredericksen said, "which is about the full value of the house."

When last year's 7.1 earthquake struck Southcentral Alaska it destroyed homes, damaged buildings and changed the landscape. Homes sunk. Roads caved in. Even today, almost a year later, the rebuilding continues.

Down the street from Fredericksen, David Baldwin recently had a crew jacking up the garage on his property, which serves as an assisted living home. He says he expects the repairs to cost about $100,000, which doesn't include the work he'll do by himself to fix the sheetrock.

"It was pretty bad to sit here and take a look at all this damage, and this broken concrete behind us, and cinder blocks and realize just how much damage there was," Baldwin said.

While people have slowly fixed the cracks that shoot through the walls like lightning bolts, the more expensive repairs are adding up. For some people the high bills mean losing their homes.

Daric Harkless and her husband, a military couple, bought their dream home in Eagle River a few years ago. It later became a rental after they were transferred to the Lower 48. Harkless says even with renters they were losing money on the home, but they kept it because the home, to them, was perfect.

Their little red home was destroyed during the quake and now sits lopsided, roof caved in, and abandoned.

She says FEMA hasn't been able to help because the home is considered a rental and not their main property. She says insurance also hasn't been enough.

Harkless says there isn't even enough money to tear the home down and they're in talks now with the bank to give the property back.

"It's pretty upsetting," Harkless said calling on FaceTime from New York State, "just because, you know, that was going to be our home. It was going to be our forever home, we had a lot of plans to live there."

She says when they return to Alaska the plan is to buy a home in Wasilla.

Copyright 2019 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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