Saturday, October 17, 2009

20 Years Later - Loma Prieta and Me

We are just 1 1/2 hour away from the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta eartquake of 1989. I remember it like it was yesterday, the event emblazened on my mind.  I was a senior at Saratoga High School and I was busy at work in my bedroom working on my A.P. Computer Science class homework (on a Mac SE) when the event struck.

At first the shaking started slow but kept building and building.  It was, by all accounts, not an up/down quake but a side/side based quake.  The Northridge earthquake of the 90's was an up/down quake that caused a lot of devestation.  Our buildings and lives are made for side/side based quakes and not up/down.  Anyway, the side to side motion did get violent and I found myself ducking under my desk.  I would like to attribute my years of living in California, partaking in many < 5.0 based earthquakes, and school training helped in my ability to duck and cover.... but I am guessing it was more out of panic and shear self-preservation that I was so quick to save myself.

Here is a funny interlude to this story.  Once I found myself safe under my desk, I found myself taking catalog of my being and things around me.  The first thing that popped into my head was the safety of my new Macintosh computer on my desktop above me.  Here I am under my desk, the world shaking around me, and me not only thinking about my computer safety, but now reacting and attempting to steady my computer with my outstretched hand.  I kid you not!  I was actually reaching up from under my desk to steady the new computer system.  (I am a Mac Fanatic!!!).

Once the quake subsided, after what seemed like 45-60 seconds of motion (in reality a mere 10-15 seconds), I made my way from my bedroom at the front of the home, towards the kitchen area and then stumbled outside.  I think during Earthquakes, many people seek the comfort of open ground rather than enclosed spaces.

In retrospect, we had survived a disasterous 6.9 magnitude earthquake, the likes of which I had not seen since or anything even close.  It is amazing because a lot transpired that saved a lot of lives.  It is coincedental or fate that both the SF Giants and Oakland A's were in the 3rd game of the World Series, warming up when the quake hit, thereby lessening the impact of people on the roads, especially on the Bay Bridge which had a sectional collapse, and the Oakland Cypress Viaduct structure which collapsed on top of motorists.

There was wide spread damage all the way from the epicenter in Loma Prieta (Santa Cruz Hills) to San Francisco and beyond.

We live - We learn.  Are we better off for having gone through such and experience.  Hard to say.  I think people are complacent in their lives and the 'other' man-made difficulties we have to endure (the economy, jobs, etc.) to really ensure we have a safety cushion in our lives.

I will start rethinking our safety supplies to help protect my family when (not if) the next one hits.

Be safe.

Bill

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