Alaska’s top elected officials praise building codes as preventing far worse damages from earthquake

Recent comments by leading elected officials point to building codes having minimized damages from a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Anchorage, Alaska, on November 30th and contributed to a rapid post-disaster recovery. The Alaska earthquake did not result in any collapsed buildings, widespread damage to infrastructure or loss of life, partially due to the strong building codes the state adopts – the International Codes (I-Codes). Comments include:

  • Governor Bill Walker praised the state’s building codes while commenting on minor damages to his own home: “Building codes mean something.”
  • Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz credited building codes for minimizing structural damage and said, “Considering the scale of earthquake, the extent of damage was relatively small.”
  • U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski stated, “We have worked as communities in our state to be prepared for disasters when they should come. We have some of the most stringent building codes in the world, and for the most part, our buildings held up.”
  • U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan said, “We were fortunate that there were no deaths…Given how many earthquakes we have had over the years, we have learned a lot. The first thing we learned is about building codes. Fortunately–again, thank God–we had no buildings collapse. We have a lot of structures–homes, businesses, schools–that have severe structural damage, but a collapsing building is where you get a lot of deaths…Strong, strict building codes…[help] to prevent that.”

These results are consistent with several studies that demonstrate that well-enforced building codes help mitigate earthquake risk.