The Night the Earth Shook
I MENTIONED THIS POST AND INCLUDED A LINK IN YESTERDAY’S ARTICLE, TWO FOR ONE. HOWEVER, I UNDERSTAND THE LINK DIDN’T WORK AS I EXPECTED - AT LEAST IN SOME CASES. SO, I’M REPUBLISHING IT SEPARATELY. MY APOLOGIES FOR THE CONFUSION!
At 5:02 on Oct. 17, 1989, just before Game 3 of the World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants began, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook the Bay Area. The Loma Prieta earthquake was the most significant “shaker” since 1906.
I had a late meeting at the police department that night. Dan was on his way home from his job as an elevator service superintendent in San Francisco.
Before the meeting, I went to a nearby restaurant. I was sitting in a booth next to a mirror, waiting for my dinner, when everything shook and moved.
I remember thinking, is this an earthquake? Am I going to die? I better do something! So I crawled under the table until the shaking stopped. I thought, phew - ok, then, no harm. I finished my dinner, paid the bill, and left.
But when I got outside, the story was different -there was minor damage - the street lights were out, and there was an odd silence.
I returned to the office - where my office partner and I sat in the darkened office - under the desk as “aftershocks” continued.
I got ahold of Dan by phone. He was safe but stayed in San Francisco in case people were stuck in elevators.
As we talked, he was in his car on a hill, watching buildings burn in San Francisco.
My office partner and I canceled the meeting, but the Sgt. asked to fill in - to direct traffic, answer calls - whatever was needed. So, we huddled in dispatch as the calls came in.
We heard rumors that San Jose, where I lived, was heavily damaged. I didn’t know if I had a home or how our children were.
About 9 o’clock, everything was under control in the city and at the PD, so I headed home. But first, I got gas in the car and bought a bag of groceries because I didn’t know what I’d find.
The freeway was closed, so I had to detour, but I got home safely. The house was still standing. Dan got home safely shortly after that. Our daughter was cleaning up the minor damage at the house, and we heard from our son. We were fortunate.
Others were not as fortunate.
The Loma Prieta earthquake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries, and about $6 billion in damage. Numerous casualties occurred as parts of several freeways collapsed, crushing people in their cars.
We’ve had a few earthquakes since then - a small one, like the one I felt a few months ago. I knew it was an earthquake - and was ready to move - but there was no need. Another small one occurred on September 21st: “A 2.9-magnitude earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay Area in California, the U.S. Geological Survey reported”, but I didn’t feel it.
They say that quakes can happen at any time. One was more than enough - I will never forget it.
Do you have any earthquake stories to share?
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