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 the March 27, 1964, earthquake 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. So, when it started shaking, Dad thought it was the furnace.
As a result, we all ran outside, only to discover everyone in Turnagain Heights was outside.
At first, my brother and I were laughing. Then the ground kept shaking and continued to do so for over 5 minutes. Cars slid out of flat driveways. The paved road looked like waves. There was nothing we could do but wait it out.
Then our home started moving in one piece and cracks began to appear in the ground.
Seconds later 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.
True rumors can be frightening for kids our age. We're Catholics and this happened on Good Friday.
There were a bunch of small after shocks, 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. Furthermore, I would suggest that you do as well.
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.
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.
Take a look at Great Alaskan Earthquake Survivor