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San Francisco- April 18, 1906
The room shook. I opened my eyes as the room rocked a second time. It was dark. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness I looked at the clock. It was a little past five in the morning. Why was the room shaking? Was this an earthquake? I sat up. My bed was sliding to the other end of the room. I quickly jumped off and my feet landed loudly on the hard wooden floor. The room moved again. I wobbled and fell down.
‘’Alice! What’s happening?’’ my younger sister, Anna asked nervously as she jumped out of her own bed. Her curly brown hair was bouncing up and down. That is when the room started to shake even more. Mother rushed into the room in her nightdress.
‘’It’s an earthquake! We need to get out! Put on your shoes!’’ she commanded. The cupboard started to slide quickly in my direction. I jumped up to my feet and moved away from it. It crashed into the wall where I had been just seconds ago. Where were my shoes and stockings? The organized person I am I always have my shoes and my stockings in the same spot every single day. I was surprised to not find them in the spot I kept them. They must have slid to another corner of the room, I thought.
I bounced around as I looked for them. I found them and I put them on. Mother, Anna and I ran out of the room to the stairs. I clutched the banister tightly as the stairs trembled. Father was waiting for us at the door. He opened it and we went outdoors.
Our neighbors were all outside. Almost all of them were in their nightclothes and many of them were not wearing shoes. We followed the crowd as I took one last look at our house. A mixture of emotions filled me. Would we ever see our house again? Then the earthquake stopped. It had been only a minute since it had begun. However, everyone kept moving.
‘’Where are we going?’’ I asked Mother.
‘’Out of San Francisco,’’ she answered, ‘’It will be dangerous if one of the buildings fall,’’ She looked up at some of the shaking buildings. As if on cue, one of the buildings started to crumble. Many people were yelling but I couldn’t hear what they were saying above the rumbling of the building collapsing. We kept running.
‘’Alice! Look, there is a dog on top of those crates! I am going to save him!’’ Anna squealed pointing behind us. I looked where she was pointing. About forty feet away was a dog on top of a tall stack of shipping crates. He kept barking, but everyone who was going past him did not notice him.
‘’Someone else will save him. We need to go now!’’ I said as I followed Mother and Father.
‘’I am still going,’’ Anna announced before she darted off in the direction of the dog.
‘’Anna!’’ I yelled as I ran after her. People kept going past me, trying to get out of the city. I couldn’t see Mother, Father or Anna now. This was dreadful. Should I keep going ahead? Maybe Anna had turned around?
Then I smelled something. Smoke. The city was on fire! I looked around for Anna. The crowds of people were blocking my view. I could not see the crates.
‘’Anna!’’ I yelled. No answer. ‘’Anna!’’ I yelled again. Again there was no answer. Where was she?
‘’Alice!’’ Anna yelled, ‘’I’m here!’’ I looked to where the sound was coming from. I caught a glimpse of Anna’s pink nightdress and the crates. I ran over. She was holding the dog. He was small and light brown. He looked scared. He was shivering and whimpering.
‘’We need to get going now!’’ I said urgently. I grabbed Anna’s hand and ran. There wasn’t anyone on the street now.
‘’Is this the way out of San Francisco?’’ Anna asked as we passed a broken cable car. My heart skipped a beat. Were we going the wrong way? Then there was an aftershock. The ground rocked. The two buildings closest to us started to collapse. I could barely hear my own thoughts over the noise.
‘’Do you think we are going the wrong way?’’ I asked her.
‘’Um...’’ she started. I sighed. I heard the sound of people’s footsteps. They were not going away from us. They were coming towards us. They were firemen.
‘’How do we get out of San Francisco?’’ I asked loudly. One of them stopped moving and turned to us.
‘’Take the first right and follow that street,’’ he instructed. I nodded. He rejoined the group of firemen as they continued down the street. Anna followed me as we kept going.
‘’The dog keeps wiggling,’’ Anna complained as she slowed down. I took the dog from her and we started running again, avoiding giant cracks in the street as we went. I gulped at the thought of falling into one of those deep black holes of darkness. The sky was starting to get brighter. It was almost dawn. It had been nearly an hour since the earthquake had started.
‘’I see Mother and Father!’’ Anna yelled as we got out of the city. I put the dog on the ground excitedly. We ran up to them with the dog at our heels.
In the years to come I would always remember the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. The fire had blazed through many parts of the city before it was put out and there was much destruction. In the thirteen years of my life prior to the earthquake and the years afterward it would be the most frightening experience. It would be remembered in the history books as one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. I was shaken forever.