Kathleen Wright – Elmendorf

Thank you so very much for this website. I appreciate the stories. There are few people who actually know what I mean when I say earthquake.

I live in Eureka, CA now, we had a 6.5 in January, 2010. This event brought it all back; the ’64 quake went on forever. It went on so long that I thought that’s how life would be, like standing on a pitching boat. The earth makes a sound when it rips apart. I can’t describe it, but you know it’s a living thing being ripped apart. The quake here, I felt my viscera gather, my insides clenched.

The 1964 Anchorage earthquake – I was 11, my Dad was stationed at Elmendorf.

I felt the house shake and my Mom screamed earthquake. At first you think it’s a sonic boom, or a truck running down the dirt road too fast making the house shake and windows rattle, and then it picked up speed, slammed into the house and everything shook, violently for five minutes. The floor left my feet. I slammed into the wall which became the floor and back. She stuffed my sister and me into the closet, safe under the coats.

Pictures on the wall were flew to perpendicular and then crashed to the floor. Looking out of the window, you could see telephone poles whip back and forth and the power lines snap free from the poles, showering sparks, you would see sky, then ground, furniture scrambled, cupboard doors opened and dishes shot right past us and crashed against the wall. And, it was deafening. It roared in your ears and your ears rang from it. After the quake, my Mom and sister and I went to find my Dad on-base, (Elmendorf). He worked in a two-story brick building on a grassy knoll. There was another earthquake right as we pulled up, there were guys yelling and jumping out of second story windows to the ground.

My Mom, who was a force of nature, grabbed us and marched up the front stairs and confronted the biggest, blackest AP (Air Police) I’ve ever seen. And, all he would say is “No, Mam”. “You can’t go in there. Everyone is fine”. Push, shove. “No, Mam”. He barricaded the door with his body and a rifle. He’s the only person I ever saw stop my Mom. I think having the gun helped.

We left, went home and waited for Dad to show up. A breakfront cabinet had fallen against the door to the small room between the kitchen and garage. (We living off base in small house in a place called Nunaka Valley). It was my job to clean up the mess of dishes and the like so we could move the break-front and get into the small room that had an oil-fired heater. The kitchen floor was covered with cinnamon sugar, sprinkle on toast – yum. Now, not so much, can’t stand the scent of cinnamon anymore. We moved the breakfront, Mom started the heater and that’s where we stayed for the longest time. It was March in Alaska. Night came. So cold. No water, no electricity, we used a coffee can for well… you know. The hot water heater, broken free from the connection, spewed water everywhere, it turned to ice. The only dishes we had were in the dishwasher. I still have a hard time unloading the damn thing. They seem safe there.

For military brats who may wish to connect with other military brats – Military Brats Online. http://www.militarybrats.net

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