William J. Ellis – Anchorage

I’ve just discovered your Great Alaskan earthquake web site and have a personal link to this event – not a recollection, but more of a question. Also, I Googled to see what might be online because I’m thinking of writing a story about the natural disaster story; it has been significant to me since high school; I was growing up when it happened and had been in the general area with my father one year earlier.

Anyway, my aunt, uncle, and cousin lived in Anchorage at the time about one block from the fissure that toppled Penney’s. She wrote dad about her experiences – she was also a favorite aunt of mine and accounts of her travel and documentary influenced my life then and to this day. All three have since deceased. Their daughter survives and I’m not sure I should share their name. My aunt did not run into the street with the others – something about saving dishes and grabbing a mirror in the bedroom to save it, leading her to throw herself on the bed with it and zang-zang-zang wildly around the room. Not much left of the nervous system for a few years, either.

According to her account, while she lay on the bed my uncle and cousin then fought their way to the Anchorage power source, where they shut down the city’s power supply to save further destruction. Gas lines had erupted, power lines were down, and who knows what explosions were possible. I’d like to know more about the extinguishing of the power supply. Anchorage was a 2nd or 3rd career for them so they were semi-retired, older, and there may be younger folks working for the city administration at the time who would still be around. Do you have any suggestions? Meantime, I will start the story with only my vivid memories and compiling other’s recollections, put it online, and watch it grow. Thank you! Warmly, C…

I was a senior at West Anchorage high school when this happened. We were out of school due to Good Friday and that saved a lot of lives. When it hit, we were at Gamble and North lights having just left the downtown area. The car felt like a rolling and rocking sensation. We watched power lines hitting each other and also a gas station on the corner lost its large glass window causing oil cans running all over the street. We had problems getting home as we lived in the Sand lake area and bridges were all damaged. What a mess inside our house. What a terrible night it was aftershocks no electricity, we rescued a lady next door with small children, her husband out in the bush. The next day we assessed the house and found minor damage. Our school was destroyed. We ended up going to our rival school East Anchorage and had to go split days. We graduated that year due to both gyms being damaged out of an Air Force Hanger. What a terrible ordeal, and I know every once in a while I will think about it and realize just what a piece of history that we all lived through.

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