I Remember 64
by JR Shackelford
(New Iberia, Louisiana)
I was 11 years old in 1964 and living with my parents in the Turnagain By The Sea residential area on Captain Cook Blvd.
It was a snowy day, gray and over cast and fairly cold with lots of snow still on the ground.
It was Good Friday and my parents were at home getting ready for an Easter party on Sunday. They had dishes and all kinds of stuff for a party out on the counter tops.
My oldest brother and his friend had gone to Alyeska to go skiing that day. My middle brother and his friend were at our house.
About ten minutes before the quake started, our dog and cat were going crazy at the front door, and they wanted out of the house. I had never seen them do this kind of behavior before, even my Mom said way are the animals acting so crazy.
I let them out and they both took off like bullets. They knew something was about to happen, and they didn't want to be in that house.
So around 5:30pm my brother, his friend and I sat down in his bedroom to watch a puppet show, FireBall XL5 or something like that on TV.
At 5:35 the ground shook just a little, we all looked at each other, and then it got stronger.
Dishes were breaking, and the house was really shaking. My Dad yelled, “get out of the house now”, he didn't have to say it twice. My Dad got hold of my Mom and got her to the front door, she had polio in her younger years and could not move quickly so my Dad and I helped her to the door.
Outside, the trees were really swaying and cracking. My brother was halfway down the street with his friend. I don't know where they were going because there was no escape from this.
It finally stopped.
Everything got real quiet and surreal.
I think we were all in shock, but didn't know it at the time. Our house was five blocks from Cook Inlet and after the quake it had moved to only three blocks from the inlet. We lost power for a long time. Our house was lucky because it only shifted 3" off the foundation. The fire place was our only heat for weeks.
Dishes, glasses, anything in a cabinet fell out on the floor and broke. It was a big mess in the kitchen.
For days my parents didn't know how my older brother was doing down at Alyeska. Even at that age I knew they worried that he didn't make it. But radio station KFQD had the names of everyone alive at Alyeska, and it was good news.
An avalanche had come right to the lodge and stopped and nobody was hurt. Good thing the lifts were closed by the time the quake hit.
Many military planes were taking off at Elmendorf air force base.
The Army set up water tanks for fresh water and provided Jerry cans.
We were under Marshall Law for a while.
Even to this day I remember the 1964 Alaska earthquake like it was yesterday, but it was more than 50 years ago.
Some things in your life shake you to the bone and burns it into your soul.
This was one of these days.
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