disasterLooking for Birds

We didn’t expect the next leg of our adventure to teach us a lesson about handling disaster. Our trip led us to the port town of Seward, AK. I took my first driving test in Seward back in 1982, and came away a happy 16-year-old with a driver’s license.

After breakfast we drove into Seward for our early morning kayak adventure from Miller’s Landing to Tonsina Beach. Once again, thanks to Groupon.com, we found an adventure we could afford.

In addition to finding new birds, I hoped to get some close-up shots of sea otters. We had seen five of them on our drive through town and out to Miller’s Landing, so I felt sure we would see at least one. Pedro and I ended up as the only clients for the Tonsina Beach trip. In no time at all, we made it out into Resurrection Bay. The smooth waters mirrored the fluffy morning clouds.

Along the way I saw Harlequin Ducks for the first time, as well as Ancient Murrelets. When we pulled up on the beach near Tonsina Creek, I startled Pedro and our guide, Jamie, when I squealed at the sight of a Rufous Hummingbird darting towards me. I only squealed because the hummer startled ME! For some reason, I didn’t expect to find hummingbirds in Alaska.

Seward Under Siege

While exploring alongside the creek, Jamie explained that during the 1964 earthquake the elevation of Seward dropped six feet. Pedro and I picked plump huckleberries from the bushes next to the trail, and I snapped photos of the lettuce-looking moss that grew on the tree trunks.

Jamie continued her history lesson. The earthquake lasted almost five minutes, and caused underwater avalanches. The avalanches caused reverberation waves, which destroyed petroleum tank farms and caused oil spills. The oil spills caught on fire.


Twenty-five minutes after the 9.2 earthquake ended, a 40-foot high tsunami wave rolled into the narrow confines of Resurrection Bay. The tsunami waters traveled almost a mile inland before receding, leaving destruction and fire in their wake.

Jamie showed us an area where the earthquake had knocked over trees, leaving stumps standing starkly. Few trees had grown back in that area because the elevation drop had changed what grew there.


Learning Not to Lament

By the time we headed back, the wind had kicked up and pushed the fully clouds into towering grey piles. Other kayaking groups dotted the waters, so I figured that the sea otters had withdrawn to a more secluded place. The rougher waters made photographing wildlife from the kayak extremely difficult.

I started to internally lament my decreased ability to get good photos and the lack of cooperative sea otters. But I stopped myself (internal lamentations, I’ve learned, do little to change the circumstances or increase my level of enjoyment).

Instead, I chose to marvel at resilient people of Seward who rebuilt the city in one year. They chose not to let devastating circumstances overcome them. They lived through the terror of a 9.2 earthquake that lasted almost five minutes AND a tsunami.

They could have given up and moved on. Twelve people lost their lives. The disaster destroyed 86 houses and substantially damaged another 260. Those numbers represent a catastrophic loss for a town of under 2000.

What About Me?

How often, when I face catastrophe and disaster in my life, do I think it’s not worth it to rebuild? Maybe a relationship seems beyond repair. Maybe my financial situation seems uncontrollable. Maybe a health concern has me feeling hopeless.

But God has me covered. He promises strength to go on. He will give me the courage that I need to face another day. All I have to do is ask.

All I have to do is ask, and God will help me through #disaster Click To Tweet

In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. Psalm 37:19

Beauty Tip #20: When disaster strikes, remember that God will be with you to comfort and restore you.

Q4U: Do you ever overreact to little things in life and does this make it even more difficult to face an actual disaster?


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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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