Breanna McDonough – The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

I was sleeping peacefully in my bed, when my room began to shake. My belongings began tumbling off of their places on my shelf. I had heard about this once at school before—it was an earthquake. My teachers had told me to find a piece of furniture to get under, so I crawled out of bed, slid under my desk, and grasped onto its back legs. I heard my mother and father yelling from their bedroom. I began to pray that the shaking would stop soon and that my family and I would make it out okay. The minute that the world was shaking felt like hours, as I watched my belongings get destroyed and hearing my family’s screams from other rooms. The shaking came to an abrupt stop, and as soon as it did, I sprinted to my parents’ room. My two sisters, Rose and Molly, ran into the hallway doing the same, and we found them cuddled underneath their desk. They embraced us in their arms, and we hugged for what seemed like ages. 

“Are you girls okay? Are you hurt?” My mother asked as she pulled away from my embrace. 

I shook my head along with my sisters. They stood up from the floor and we all held hands, walking out of the room to see the damage that had been done. There was shattered glass all over the floor and items were thrown around everywhere. I was too scared to look at my room and see my favorite belongings scattered around and broken. My mother’s hand held tight to mine, and I could feel the blood in my fingers flowing slower than usual. Her knuckles were white and could feel her hands shaking within mine. We all made our way down the stairs, and the sight was atrocious. My mom gasped and broke from my grasp, her possessions and our glass decor was all broken on the floor. 

“Mama what happened?” my youngest sister, Rose, asked. Tears welled at the corner of my mothers eyes, a wave of guilt washing over me. Some of her favorite and memorable items had been broken. 

“Just a few things got broken, but I’m just happy that we’re alright.” She smirked at us and hugged Rose. 

We all walked towards the front door, more items were scattered and broken, and shards of glass lay near every window sill. My father opened the front door and the sight was even worse than what had happened inside our home. Fire trucks sped up and down the road, houses and buildings were nothing but rubble, and people were laying in the street. I began to silently pray to myself, that those who had been affected worse would be okay. My mother split from us and ran to our neighbor, Donna Luthy’s house. Mrs. Luthy was a dear friend to my mother, and I guaranteed that my mother wanted to make sure she was safe as well. Her house seemed much like ours, only a few broken windows and a tree that had fallen in her yard. 

“Donna? Donna, are you alright?” my mother yelled as she pounded on her door. Minutes went by and she hadn’t come to the door, and my mother began to worry. 

“I bet that she’s in a farther part of the house, cleaning things up, don’t worry too much,” My father explained to her, draping his arm around her shoulder. Mother moved out of his embrace and ran to Mrs. Luthy’s back door. 

“Donna, open the door please!” she shrieked, banging as hard as she could on her door. I had never seen my mother so frightened and anxious before. Molly and Rose began to cry and hid behind my dad’s legs. I doubt they knew what was happening, but the sight of my mother was frightening enough.

“Linda, are you alright?” Mrs. Luthy asked as she cracked her backdoor open. Mother embraced her in a tight hug and relief washed over all of us. 

“You didn’t answer when I knocked on the front door to check on you, and I got worried,” she answered, pulling Mrs. Luthy out of her arms. 

“Is your house okay? Was there any damage?” Mrs. Luthy questioned. 

“Nothing on the outside but some broken windows, but many things inside the house shattered. What about yours?”. 

“I am so sorry Linda, that’s terrible. But, mine is the same as yours with the windows, and just a few things broke inside”. 

We heard the sirens from an ambulance wailing on the other side of the house, and we dashed over there. A man was being pulled into the back on a stretcher, and the white blankets he was draped in were covered in blood. I said another silent prayer that that man would recover well. 

Everyone in the neighborhood was lined up and down the street, watching people get taken away in ambulances. I had never seen, read, or heard about such a gruesome sight in my life. The sight was terrible with children crying, injured and dead people, and materials that were once home were now rubble. My parents urged us into Mrs. Luthy’s house, as my sisters had begun to cry. I felt sad knowing that they had to see such a sight, and they were too little to even understand what was going on. 

“I’ll call the repairman to help with the window tomorrow, I can assume that he’s going to be extra busy today,” my father said, as Mrs. Luthy handed him a mug of coffee. 

Ambulances continued to rush up and down the street, and there were still so many people outside. Poor Rose began to cry again. Mrs. Luthy shut her drapes and offered us all some cocoa to distract ourselves. Seeing the damage that had been done to nearly everyone around us, I was incredibly grateful to still have a home, not be injured, and have my family safe. I was lucky I still had my life. 

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