woke up to the loud screaming of my
friend, "It is an earthquake! It is an
earthquake! Get up! Get up!" I was half
asleep. I didn't know what to
Matta from Brazil
all began during the night of January 17, 1994. It
was 4 o'clock in the morning, and everybody was
asleep. I woke up to the loud screaming of my
friend, "It is an earthquake! It is an earthquake!
Get up! Get up!" I was half asleep.
didn't know what to do. I ran to my friend's room.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me with her toward
the door. We stood together hugging each other in
fear underneath the door jam until the earthquake
lasted about 40 seconds, but it seemed like it
never ended. The whole apartment was a mess. The
cabinet door opened, and everything fell down and
broke. All the pictures and plates hanging on the
wall fell down and broke too. Even the TV and VCR
only things that were saved were a few dishes that
were in the dishwasher. We lost all of the food
that my mother had cooked for us before she and my
father went back to Brazil two days before. Weren't
cut my foot when I got up and ran to my friend. The
marble stone on top of the dresser fell down on my
bed while I was sleeping. It fell one inch from my
head. I think I was very lucky because it could
have killed me.
I saw all this mess I began to shake and cry. I was
very, very nervous and in panic. My friend was
trying to calm me down. The apartment started to
shake again. My friend said, "It is the
aftershocks. Don't be scared."
a while, the aftershocks stopped, and I tried to
call my family in Brazil and also my friends to
find out if they were ok, but I couldn't. The phone
wasn't working and there was no electricity. At
that moment, I got more nervous and panicked. I
felt like it was the end of the world, and I was
going to die without my family knowing.
sat down and cried like a baby and screamed to my
friend, "I want my mother. I want to talk to my
mother. I don't want to stay here anymore. I want
to go back to Brazil." I was screaming and tears
were coming down my face. My poor friend didn't
know what to do to make me calm.
I was calmer, we decided to go into the street. We
grabbed a candle and ran outside. On the way out, I
noticed the interior walls had cracked wide open,
so that I could see the wood. The laundry room was
a mess. The machines had moved all the way to the
middle of the room, and there was water all over
the place. The wall was cracked, and the stairs
were cracked too. The glass door of the building's
entrance was broken.
more I saw of this mess, the more I panicked.
Finally, we got to the street where we saw a lot of
people. The whole neighborhood was on the street
talking and trying to help the people who were in
panic. The ambulance was there, too. A lot of
people were nervous and scared.
people began to scream at us, "Blow out the
candles! Blow out the candles!" My friend and I,
without knowing why the people were screaming, blew
out our candle. A woman came to us and explained
that it is very dangerous because the gas lines
could be broken. Can you imagine? We could have
started a fire. After all this tragedy we didn't
need a fire.
the street it was very, very bad, too. Our building
was completely crooked. The building beside us
collapsed over the cars in the garage underneath
the building. A lot of cars were smashed by the
pieces of the building that fell over them.
all this mess, my friend and I decided to go visit
our friend Rose who lived very close to us. We
wanted to know if everything was fine with her. She
was 95 years old at that time. Her apartment was a
mess too, but, thank God, she was ok. Her building
was safe. Our building was condemned, so we moved
in with Rose. Later, we found out that we were a
few miles away from the epicenter.
the afternoon,I was finally able to call my family
in Brazil. I was very concerned because I knew they
would see the news in Brazil and be worried about
me. From this experience I have learned two things.
If I am going to live in California, I have to be
prepared for earthquakes. I also learned that
people are helpful and friendly when we need them.
I hope nobody has to have this same experience. I'm
thankful that my friend and I are alive
This story was selected from Julia Karet's ESL
writing project at Chaffey Community College:
Look Book Project.
natural disaster stories:
Extreme Storm in
Flood in Teheran
Forces of Nature
- ©1997-2007 -
Sandy and Thomas Peters