I was 13 and my Little Brother was 10 ... We Recall the Quake Vividly
by Ron Dionne
(Crystal Sorings, MS.)
Turnagain by the Sea
I've been asked to give our memory of March 27, 1964 at 5:36 PM. My brother and I have vivid recall.
My name is Ron Dionne and my brother is Ross Dionne. Dad was a ranking Officer at Elmendorf Air Force Base and he loved Alaska and planned to retire without returning stateside.
My brother and I had discovered Alyeska and ski racing. Plus fishing the Russian River. So Dad purchased a home in a nice subdivision ... Mom called it her dream home.
We had barely moved in when the earthquake hit...
We were still unpacking and were sitting down for dinner. There had been a rash of heating furnaces blowing up ... when it started shaking Dad thought it was the furnace ...
So we all ran outside, only to discover everyone on Turnagain Heights was outside.
At first my brother and I were laughing. Then the ground kept shaking for over 5 minutes. Cars slid out of flat driveways. The paved road looked like waves. There was nothing we could do but wait ...
Then our home started moving in one piece and cracks in the ground began to appear.
Then it calmed down only to begin again. When it all stopped my brother and I were OK but the adults went into panic mode. Something about finding high ground - which I now understand clearly.
But at that time in such a short duration, the fear was worse than the earthquake.
Dad was driving like a mad man ... everyone was!
We never went back into our new home. We spent the first night at a place called Cherry Hill on Elmendorf.
It was a long night with numerous strong after shocks. There was never a tsunami in Anchorage but as a kid I didn't understand. When the next tide came in it kept coming and coming. It was an astronomical spring tide common for the season but subsidence and uplifting had changed everything.
Rumors that are true can be frightening for kids our age. We're Catholics and this happened on Good Friday.
There were a bunch of small after shocks ... which were small but fear was in place. In fact it's still in place. I currently reside in the deep south and frequent a zone that is seismic active in the West Indies. I always book high ground. I would suggest that you do also.
My brother Ross just told me he found some video Mom took in the days after the quake. Mom passed recently. It's on old equipment, but we will get it prepared for viewing.
Check out these 1964 Alaskan Earthquake Stories