Alaska Couple’s SteelMaster Quonset Hut Survives 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake

Jerry and Jana’s SteelMaster building in Palmer, Alaska

On the morning of November 30, Jerry and Jana Gooch woke up to their home violently shaking.

“There was this huge jolt. Accompanying the jolt was a sound like a semi truck coming through our room,” Jana said.

They quickly realized it was an earthquake and found a safe place to take cover in their home as their belongings fell around them.

“Things were crashing everywhere; stuff [upstairs] was going downstairs,” she said.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake was the second largest quake in Alaska. In 1964, a magnitude-9.2 earthquake hit the state–it was the most powerful recorded temblor in U.S. history.

Despite damage to roads and buildings, officials say no fatalities or serious injuries were reported in the November 2018 quake.

When the earthquake was over, Jana and Jerry noticed their SteelMaster Quonset Hut garage was still in perfect condition. The garage is mainly used to store Jerry’s mechanical tools and also functions as his workshop.

 “[There was] not a bit of damage,” Jana said. “The arches weren’t bent or twisted; bolts still intact. Not a single rip or tear on the interior (insulation). The best part—all of my husband’s tools stayed put on the shelving we built inside.”

SteelMaster’s earthquake-resistant structures follow building codes maintained by the International Code Council (ICC), which have the best guidance on how structures should be designed and constructed to limit seismic risk.

Our buildings can be designed to Seismic Design Category E for areas near major faults with very high seismic vulnerability.

“The arches, I’m convinced, are super strong. I’m convinced that that’s why the building isn’t trashed,” Jana said.

Jana’s right–SteelMaster Quonset Huts are some of the strongest structures on the market. Our arches are made of heavy grade steel with a minimum thickness of 22-gauge steel. Plus, each one of our steel panels is corrugated, which adds even more strength to the entire structure.

For many Alaskans, the November earthquake knocked out power, ripped open roads and splintered buildings near Anchorage. Jana, a cashier, spoke with many of her customers about the condition of their buildings.

“One after another tells me that their shop is a wreck, they’ll never be able to put it back together again because everything is everywhere. And our shop is untouched.”

Disaster resistance was a big factor in the couple’s decision to purchase a Quonset Hut. After researching and comparing companies for months, Jerry ultimately decided to purchase a SteelMaster building in 2017.

“Basically, it’s a good product and the next thing was a price,” Jerry said.  “The price was half of some of the competitors.”

Jana and Jerry are considering buying a SteelMaster prefabricated home kit in the future due to the frequent earthquakes that hit Alaska.

Learn MoreDisaster Resistant Buildings

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