The children sat in rapt attention, their faces upturned, hanging on the words being read aloud from the book, “Molly and the Earthquake.”

Tilting the book so all could see the pastel-colored illustrations, the woman continues to read.

“Children, it feels like we’re having an earthquake. Get under the table. Remember: Drop, cover, and hold on,” said Miss Chris calmly, but firmly. The preschoolers slid back their chairs and got under the table, just like they’d practiced in their earthquake drills, but Molly started to cry and headed for the door.”

“Molly and the Earthquake” is one of four books by Hannah C. Watkins that tell the story of a child’s experience with a natural disaster.

In two sessions one recent Saturday afternoon, FEMA employees read from the 20-page book to groups of children ranging in age from preschoolers to high school teens. Parents of the younger children sat beside them on tiny benches.

They heard the story of how Molly and her classmates at Happy Hearts Preschool crouched under tables as their classroom began to shake, how they watched as pretzels tumbled from their cups, the hamster cage crashed to the floor and books slid off the shelves.

The book weaves a tale of bravery as Molly experiences an earthquake for the first time.

The reading was held at a Barnes and Noble store in Anchorage which sponsors a monthly Book Fair hosted by neighboring schools. This was FEMA’s opportunity to teach the children that bravery doesn’t mean a lack of fear. Instead, bravery is a decision to be courageous in the face of fear.

For Molly, being brave meant deciding she and her classmates would follow the directions of their teacher, Miss Chris.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake jolted parts of Alaska last Nov. 30, and the aftershocks have not stopped. In the five months since then, the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Kenai Peninsula Borough have experienced over 7,800 aftershocks.

The parents and kids who listened to Molly’s story had a chance to ask questions of the FEMA employees and take home handouts, from coloring books to construction tips, that matched their age group.

At the end of the reading, a FEMA employee asked the kids if they remembered what they should do during an earthquake. The response came from a shy 7-year-old boy.

“Get under the table,” he said.

A wise reminder to us all.

Did you know?
Alaska has more earthquakes per year than the other 49 states combined.
The moon has earthquakes, too!
Earthquake magnitude tells how much energy is released.
This energy is measured by a seismograph.

Do you know what to do if the earth starts shaking?
Visit for more information.

For more information on Alaska’s disaster recovery, visit, and

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FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has faced discrimination, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (FEMA), voice/VP/711. Multilingual operators are available. TTY users may call 800-462-7585.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. TTY users may also call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also email or visit SBA at