регистрация /  вход

The Great Quake Of 1906 Essay Research

The Great Quake Of 1906 Essay, Research Paper

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 has been recorded as being one of

the most costly and deadly earthquakes ever. As it unexpectedly woke the city of

San Francisco to swaying walls, burst water lines, and fires, we can only imagine

the horrifying perplexity to which these people were exposed. As I capture the

days after the quake I cannot imagine the impact that a quake like that would have

had not only on my family, but my neighbors and city in which I live.

At 5:14 a.m. on April 18, 1906, the San Andreas fault produced one of the

largest tremors ever recorded on the San Francisco Bay area. Families were

awakened to find their homes swaying at angles we can only imagine. Some

families never even made it out of their homes. The quake was registered at 8.3

and lasted for ninety seconds, causing people to reach the state of total chaos. As

the earthquake crushed the water mains, fires began to originate in the heart of the

city, allowing the fire department to only watch and wait. Many people were

crushed as buildings began to collapse as a result of aftershocks. The police and

fire department were in awe of the quake. Neither force had been properly trained

for such incidents as this. The mayor at the time E.E. Schmitz, ordered all the jails

to be evacuated as they had been rendered unsafe. The petty offenders were to be

released into the havoc streets of San Francisco and the serious offenders were to

be transferred to San Quentin State Prison. As the fires began to spread more

rapidly, more buildings began to collapse, killing even more. By 8 a.m., the city

morgue was completely filled from floor to roof with bodies of victims. So the

morgue was moved temporarily to the San Francisco police station’s target range.

Soon after the transfer of the bodies, the fire threatened that building, and the

bodies had to be once again moved. This time the bodies were buried in

Portsmouth Square. “Of the 478 bodies finally recovered a great number were

unrecognizable because of their mangled condition. It will never be known how

many were killed, as the heat of the fire was so intense that the bodies were

reduced to ashes in many instances, but judging from the reports of persons

missing and other circumstances, the number has been estimated at between 1,000

and 1,500.”1 As the city began to wake up to what was happening, yet another

problem had started to occur. The prisoners that had been let out were looting

houses, stores, buildings, and people. As word got around of the prisoners actions,

the mayor once again tried to help. “As it has come to my attention that thieves are

taking advantage of the present deplorable conditions and are plying their

nefarious vocations among the ruins in our city, all peace officers are ordered to

instantly kill any one caught looting or committing any other serious crimes.”2

Shortly after the statement was made, troops began to patrol the streets. When the

first looter was caught trying to burglarize a jewelry store, he was turned over to a

soldier who killed the man and left his body to be dissipated by the fire. Many

people, seeing that most of their lives had either been taken by the fire or by the

earthquake, decided to aid those who were in need. One man was trapped under a

building that had collapsed in such a way that he was pinned to the street. His cries

for help were heard by passersby who attempted to rescue him. As the flames

reached the rear of the building, the man begged one of the passersby, a large,

middle-aged man to kill him so that he would not suffer any longer. After much

skepticism the man pulled out a pistol and shot the victim in the head, killing him

instantly. The larger man then asked a witness to escort him to the hall of justice

where he then told his story to the mayor. The mayor gave the man a medal for

relieving the victim of suffering. As the fires blazed on and the aftershocks came

one after the other, the city began to come together as one. People were helping

others in ways that had never been demonstrated before. People were sharing food

with others when they barely had enough to feed themselves. On the morning of

the earthquake, the city council soon realized that actions had to be taken to

prevent a famine from occurring. Police officers were then ordered to remove all

contents from convenience stores and grocery stores that were in danger of being

burned or of collapsing. This was kept up for three days and nights. As a result of

this, the contents of 390 grocery stores were issued to the refugees. The fire and

policemen that were still alive after the catastrophe were all given medals in honor

of the sacrifices they made in order to control the fires and people. With little

nourishment, no sleep, their homes destroyed, fate of their families unknown.

“Officer James Connolly had concluded that his entire family had been killed, but

a week later he located them in Vallejo, Cal.”3

As the fires began to calm down, and the aftershocks stopped, people

opened their eyes for the first time and were able to actually see all that the fires

and earthquakes had done. It was spectacular that one earthquake could reduce a

city to literally bricks. This amazing city had been turned into acres and acres of

brick and bodies. As some mourned their losses, others rejoiced in the fact that

they were alive. Anyone was lucky after surviving an 8.3 earthquake for 90

seconds, with 186 aftershocks, and fires that burned continuously for four days.

That great earthquake and fires caused an estimated amount of 5,000 people their

lives. The quake changed the lives of every man, woman, and child within a 300

mile radius. It caused the city over half a billion dollars in damage, and the fires

burned more than 3,000 acres out of the heart of the city. The earthquake killed

more people, caused more money in damages, and changed more people’s lives

than almost any other quake. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires has

been called the worst catastrophe in American History.