Letter from earthquake survivor, dated Apiril 18th,
1906, describes earthquake carnage
By Barbara West,
Special to the Sentinel
April 18, 2006
Editor's Note: Barbara West is the grandaughter of Hugh
Monan and resides in England.
The following letter, describing the sensations experienced by
a sufferer from the San Francisco earthquake, was received by
Mr Hugh Monan, of 32, Waverley Ave, Fairview, Dublin, from his
brother, who was in the city at the time of the earthquake:
San Francisco California
18th April 1906.
My Dear Hugh,
A terrible earthquake has occurred here, followed by a disastrous
fire, which is burning the whole town. Thousands are killed. I
narrowly escaped with my life from the earthquake. I may not fare
so well with the fire, which is something terrible. Everything
is so miserably dreadful that I cannot describe it. It is fearful.
It will take me quite a long time to survive the shock. It is
another Pompeii. I am sending you the papers.
Every building was wrecked; churches were overthrown; &
streets twisted into all kinds of shapes. The people are starving,
& no food is to be had until relief trains come in. One has
to sleep on sidewalks. And everything is so awful, fearfully dreadful;
the shock is still "Ringing in My Ears". Millions of
property has been destroyed. But you can read everything
for yourself in the papers, which I will mail to you as soon as
I am absolutely homeless now. The earthquake was felt all
over the states. All the surrounding towns are a total wreck.
San Francisco is a town about the size of Dublin. The population
is almost 500,000, two-thirds of which are a1ready homeless. I
have lost everything in the fire: the town is all in darkness
and looks like a graveyard.
Everything is at a standstill, and the people will soon starve
if relief does not come soon.
The earthquake started at 5 -15 o'clock in the morning. I
was tossed in the bed like a boat in a rough sea. The shock lasted
forty seconds. The fire is fierily raging all around me as I write,
and soon will demolish the place in which I am writing this letter.
I cannot say anything about the future and for the present I must
only allow myself to be governed by circumstances. Hoping you
are well. I remain your affectionate brother.
(signed) William O'Hara-Monan