Saturday, October 17, 2009

Twenty Years...

Twenty years ago, right now...

The Bay Area shook, rattled and rolled...


6.9 on the Richter Scale...


The World Series was interrupted...


I was standing in the kitchen at my best friend's house looking out the back window, watching as the garage would lean one way and the house leaned the other. It sounded like a freight train was rolling past the house, but the nearest tracks were a mile away. When we finally stopped moving we knew it had been pretty strong, but nothing was broken and we were all still standing, so we figured it was just another earthquake so common to this area.

We had to leave shortly thereafter to go to the Oakland airport. As we drove west on I-80, the concrete slab traffic lanes were visibly separated at the expansion joints. Each lane was three or four inches lower than the one to its left. The Ashby Avenue off-ramp was about two feet lower than the slow lane of the freeway and there was a CHP car parked there to keep any HUA drivers from catching air off of it.

It finally sunk in that this was way bigger than we thought, when we were detoured around I-880. We could see the collapsed freeway, and the smoke from the cars. We looked across the bay and saw the smoke from the apartment building at Beach and Divisadero. Then we heard about the section of the Bay Bridge that collapsed.

Twenty years later, I still remember it like it was today.

Where were you?

14 comments:

Sabra said...

I was ten. I remember it mainly because of the World Series. In all honesty, I still do not fully comprehend it but I remember being quite scared by some of the stories, especially the freeway collapsing.

AngelE said...

I distinctly remember being in the kitchen of my parent's house eating ice cubes because it was a freaking hot day. I was in second grade and the day after the quake I didn't believe my dad that there wasn't going to be any school and made him take me to school to see. Then the next day, when there was school, I didn't want to go anymore :)

Jay911 said...

Me = age 17, lying on my couch watching the World Series on TV with my father. I remember all the stories about the major damage and incidents across the area, but the one thing that sticks in my mind was the guy who had a sign on a piece of cardboard at the stadium, clearly intended for the game: "THE SLEEPING GIANTS HAVE AWAKENED!" and in the corner he had hastily added "6.9!".

Roy in Calif said...

I was on the phone with my parents. They were at their cabin near Mammoth, I was at home near Santa Maria. We both felt it and knew it was a big one, but had to turn on the tube to find out whether SF or LA.

Alex said...

In honor of the quake, I've been starting on a earthquake survival kit. Any recommendations of contents?

Doug said...

Great Article and informative. Thanks for sharing. I know its not really relavant, but I have been following your blog for some time and I had an amazing thing happen to me today. I got a speeding ticket two months ago and I gave it to the Traffic Ticket Team, www.trafficticketteam.com, who's main
Lawyer Jason A. Diamond did a speeding traffic ticket for me and he was amazing.
He got my ticket dismissed. I know you are thinking, who cares. But I was so freggin amazed, I feel like I need to tell the world to never pay a traffic ticket again. It's so empowering to have a way to tell the cops, you are not all that. Anyway, enough soap boxing, If you ever get a traffic ticket, call Jason Diamond (954) 967-9888 his office and staff were great.
Sincerely,
Doug Johnson
Davie, FL

Front Porch Society said...

Definitely nowhere near earthquake territory!!! And I thought living thru hurricanes every single year was bad enough! I think I will take a hurricane over an earthquake any day. Ya just don't konw when an earthquake will strike but ya sure do know when hurricanes are headed your way!

Just glad you and your family were safe! :)

Damsel Underdressed said...

Well, living on the other side of the country, I can't say I actually remember this but I know the feeling of remembering a natural disaster of mass proportions.

http://blonde712.blogspot.com/2007/05/may-31-1985.html

Officer "Smith" said...

Hey Doug,

Thanks for posting your comment, even though it was totally irrelevant to this post. You could have easily put the comment on one of the posts a week or so back that actually talked about traffic matters.

As for why I didn't reject your comment...

I actually enjoy the challenge of beating an attorney in traffic court. They tend to hope I don't have my shit together so they can pick apart my testimony and get their client off on some technicality because I didn't say the defendant ran through a "steady circular red light" without stopping.

It's fun to beat an attorney in traffic court. It's too bad Mr. Diamond is in Florida.

Front Porch Society said...

I was just thinking the same thing there, Officer Smith, on Doug's comment.

TheBronze said...

Hard to believe it's been 20 years!

Wow!

I was on my way home from work and then to the Reserve Academy.

A lot of Public Safety heroes (and civilian ones) when this event happened.

the observer said...

I was in KCMO, watching it on the boober. I remember the series pregame going off the air briefly, then Al Michaels coming on and saying "I think we're having an earthquake."

I've felt two quakes, little teeny 3 or 4s, in Vermont. That's enough.

The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

I was 7 miles from the fault.. Picking up the phone to call a friend and tell her I had no food in the house and was going shopping before we met up. I remember looking up and thinking a semi hit our condo. Then as my eyes hit the Bank of the West building I watched all the upper story windows pop out and begin to fall to the ground. Knowing it was just passed 5.. I knew people were in the parking lot heading to their vehicles. I ran for cover!

In school they taught us to stand in doorways. That is wrong!!! I was holding our 3 month old little girl and griping and bracing myself in the doorway to the bedroom when the door flew shut and slammed me across the hall and into the bathroom cupboard.

bruised and battered I still had my daughter in my hands.. She is now crying.. That whole side of our body is bruised.. We get up off the floor and notice light coming thru the roof of the condo.

Most people couldn't open their doors, they were jammed shut. I get out of the house.. later that night with no food and unable to back into our condo..I stay on the phone for 20 minutes just to wait for a dial tone I call a relative and head in the dark night to the flatest farm land I could find to collect my brains before I returned.

It was the first time I ever saw my life pass before my eye's. And the first time I realized how bad an earthquake could be!! To this day I have been graced with never having felt another one!
-Dispatcher

Kathy said...

My husband and I were in a grocery store -- we'd stopped by to pick up a few things on our way home from work. We were in the produce section of the store when the ground started moving. I looked up and saw that the suspended lights were all swaying. When they began crashing together, I decided to crouch down next to a display right where I was, as I did not want to move near any shelves but also didn't want to get shocked if the lights came down. I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and it turned out that I was hiding in the bin of watermelons. That seemed funny to me at the time.

My husband was in the next aisle, and spotted a doorway where he could stand until the shaking stopped. There was a huge stack of wine bottles in the rack next to him, and they all came crashing down. He was unharmed but came out of the store smelling like a wino.

After it was over and the lights were out, we gingerly picked our way through the mess to get out of the store. Probably 10 people stopped me to ask if I was okay, and it didn't occur to me until later that they were asking because I was pregnant. But the baby was fine and so was I.

We gave a ride home to one of the store clerks, whose teenage daughter was home alone. She didn't know us, nor did we know her, but it seemed the right thing to do.

When we got out to the car and turned on the radio, KGO was off the air. I think that scared us more than the quake itself, because we figured if they were down probably everything in that area was gone.

We spent the next month helping with the relief efforts through CityTeam Ministries, primarily in the mountains and over into Santa Cruz. It was heartbreaking to see how much people had lost in some areas.