Saturday, October 17, 2009

20 years ago

On this date 20 years ago, I was 12. And at 5:04 pm, the 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake struck Northern California. If you lived up here on that date, I bet you remember where you were and what happened. Here's my story:

It was during the "Battle of the Bay" World Series - Oakland A's versus the San Francisco Giants. I believe it was the night of Game 3. My friend Chrissy and I were about to babysit a girl named Lisa (who was 8 or 9) so her dad could go meet his wife and son at Candlestick Park for the game.

He had just finished giving us directions and opened the door to leave. Suddenly he whipped around and I will never forget the look in his eyes. Total and complete fear. He rushed over to the 3 of us, grabbed us, and herded us to the nearest doorway. For 15 seconds we huddled there, feeling the ground shake like crazy and the windows come in and out. Like they literally looked like they were waving in and out of their panes. To this day, I have no idea why they didn't break or shatter. Lisa was whimpering and crying and I think I was just so scared I didn't know what to do.

The world finally stopped shaking and we all freaked out. "WHAT WAS THAT!?" The power was out so Pete (the dad) ran around the house, trying to find a battery-operated radio. We finally found one and tried to find a station. I remember a lady's voice saying there had been a huge earthquake that hit the Bay Area but they didn't know how big or what the damage was.

* The quake killed 63 people
* injured over 3,700 people
* left about 12,000 people homeless
* the upper level of the Bay Bridge collapsed, causing cars to plummet to the lower level (I can still remember the videotape someone took of the bridge falling)
* A two-level viaduct on the 880 freeway in West Oakland collapsed, killing 42 people

Needless to say, we didn't baby-sit that night. Pete drove us home. I walked through the house, looking at everything that had fallen off the shelves. I remember there were so many aftershocks and they were almost scarier than the earthquake. We never knew when another one was going to hit. We ate dinner with candles, because we had no power. When power finally came back on, news was on day and night. Shots of buildings destroyed, fires breaking out, the collapsed bridges, people homeless. It was so sad. After a couple weeks of non-stop news, I whined to my mom, "When are they going to stop talking about the earthquake?" My mom just looked at me and said, "Oh Sarah, they're going to be talking about this for a LONG TIME."

20 years ago. Wow. I still remember it vividly.

If you lived up here when it hit, what's YOUR story?

1 comment:

Jody said...

I was in Boise. But my mom's side of the family dove under tables and desks, including my 9- year old cousin who was home alone.