Earthquake Hits Alaska (06:18)
The strongest earthquake recorded in U.S. history occurred on March 27, 1964. Michelle Wiley recalls ice skating with her friend, Gretchen Young that day in Turnagain. Danny Kendall went to the docks with friends in Valdez; he had gone home by the time the earth started shaking. (Credits)
Widespread Devastation (07:37)
Survivors recall terrifying aspects of the 9.2-magnitude earthquake; it liquefied the clay soil beneath Wiley’s neighborhood and ravaged Valdez with massive tsunamis and fires from ruptured fuel lines. The latter suffered 32 of the state’s 131 fatalities.
Missing Friends and Starting Over (04:10)
Wiley recalls her friendship with Young being torn apart as their families relocated in the quake’s aftermath. Kendall recalls his friends Dennis and Stanley, who died during the quake, and says he has suffered from survivor’s guilt.
Searching for the Youngs (06:22)
Wiley shows Super 8 footage her father filmed of the damage in Anchorage. She only knows Gretchen’s parents as Mr. and Mrs. Young, but is able to pinpoint their hometowns in Whatcom County, Washington with the help of a local librarian.
Searching for "Bucky" (04:41)
Kendall begins his search for his childhood friend at the Valdez Museum, which contains a model of what the town looked like before the earthquake’s devastation. A newspaper article reveals that "Bucky’s" family moved to Seattle immediately after the disaster.
Wiley Heads to Washington (05:20)
A Bellingham librarian shows Wiley Young’s high school yearbook and helps track down her married name and possible residence in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville. Wiley calls her old friend and waits.
Name and Contact for "Bucky" (03:19)
Kendall visits the Washington State Archives where a journalist shows him a "Seattle Times" article that quoted "Bucky’s" mom. She also provides him with a Seattle phone number from 2011.
Reunited with the Youngs (06:38)
Young returns Wiley’s call and invites her to her Woodinville home. Wiley is surprised to also find Young’s mother, Dorothy, who recalls trying to protect the two girls. They catch up on the previous 54 years.
Reunited with "Bucky" (07:11)
Kendall heads to Seattle where he meets Rudolph “Bucky” McCoy for the first time since the 1964 quake. They reminisce over little league photos, recall the abruptness with which their lives changed, and remember the dead.
Credits: Great Alaskan Earthquake (00:32)
Credits: Great Alaskan Earthquake
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