Anxiety in Anchorage as endless aftershocks rattle residents

    Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - There have been more than 7,800 aftershocks since the main earthquake struck 7 miles north of Anchorage.

    Most were too small to feel, but 20 have had magnitudes of 4.5 or greater.

    The earthquake buckled roads and some homes and buildings sustained heavy damage, with initial estimates to repair damage and other costs at about $100 million.

    But most parts of Anchorage and other areas escaped the type of widespread catastrophic damage that happened in a devastating 1964 earthquake because of strict building codes that were put in place after that quake, which had a magnitude of 9.2 and was the second most powerful quake recorded on the planet.

    No deaths or serious injuries were reported after the quake seven weeks ago, but federal officials soon declared a public health emergency and mental health aid was made available for people traumatized by the event. School counselors were swamped and crisis counselors were brought in from Oregon to help at several Anchorage-area schools. Therapists and other professionals struggled to meet demand from a nervous public.

    Mental health providers say the rush of new patients has slowed, but they still treat clients rattled by the aftershocks, which strike without warning or any apparent pattern.

    Lifelong Alaskan Robert Bell was 12 during the 1964 earthquake and remembers it as a rolling action while the recent quake was more of a back-and-forth movement that felt more violent even though it wasn't as powerful. The recent quake and its aftershocks have been like reliving that youthful experience over and over, Bell said.

    Bell, who worked in construction for years, built his own home and says it's safe and solid. But his heart races when the aftershocks hit.

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