by Becky Cowen-Cornelius
The JC Penny Building
The original… “Home Alone”
I had turned 11 years old a couple of weeks before the Alaska earthquake in March 1964. My brother was 15.
We lived in a mobile home park on Muldoon road. It was Good Friday, and we were enjoying the day off and watching Fireball XL5 on TV.
Our parents were on their way home from work.
I got up to go to my bedroom for something when I heard this VERY loud growling sound. I started to yell at my brother to ask him what the heck IS THAT… when all hell broke loose, and the quake threw me into the wall of my bedroom.
I ran down the hall being thrown from one side to the other ending up in the kitchen. Dishes were falling out of the cupboards, and there was a sharp twist and the fridge door came open.
Trying my best not to step on anything, while fighting to remain standing up, I glanced out the window and saw cars that were parked outside, moving around all over the place.
I will never forget the rolling motion of the ground during the 1964 Alaska earthquake. I looked to my right through a window we had from the kitchen to the living room and remember my brother trying to catch whatever he could in an attempt to try and stabilize things.
I was being slammed one way then the other, it was such a struggle just to keep standing up, and at one point I lost that fight and fell. I got up and ran to the door where our trailer joined the addition my dad had built on.
It was horrifying to see the trailer separating repeatedly from the addition. I wasn’t about to jump through that and just tried to hang on.
The movement was so violent, never letting up the entire four and a half minutes, it just seemed to last forever.
I truly believed the world was coming to an end.
There were many strong aftershocks off and on which started the panic all over again. To this day, when we have an earthquake I always say to myself, stop, please just stop.
The panic feeling is there instantly and always will be.
BONUSGreat Alaskan Earthquake Survivor
A powerful story about a young teenage girl caught in the JC Penney building during the 1964 earthquake.
An amazing story of survival.
Check out Great Alaskan Earthquake Survivor