Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

Having only lived in California for a year, I was quite proud of myself for feeling the earthquake and jumping up into my bedroom doorway. That naive pride quickly switched to nervous panic as I became worried that my house was going to come down. I steadied myself against the moving walls as I moved down the stairs toward the front door. When the quake started I remember thinking how amazing that this earthquake is strong enough to move my entire house. From the front door I was shocked to look down the street and see the asphalt as it appeared to be moving in waves. As I play that image back in my mind so many years later, I reason that maybe it was an optical illusion caused by swaying utility wires, or the rocking cars; but at the time I know I told everyone that I watched 21st Avenue move like waves on the water. The quake slowed, and I realized that I would not need to jump clear of my falling house. Next door there were bricks littering the sidewalk where the front of the basement had come off. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and up the hill to get a better view of the City. That’s when I was able to see smoke coming from the Marina District. That evening, I cleaned up the toppled shelves best I could before a powerless darkness settled over our house. I thought the neighborhood would be as quiet as it was dark, but I was wrong. The Blarney Stone, our corner bar, was alight with candles and nervous camaraderie. The refrigerators were off and it seems nobody wanted to see the beer get cold.

Joe Speaks June 25, 2018

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The Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred on October 17, 1989, is the most recent large earthquake to strike the San Francisco Bay Area. Many individuals and families have stories and memories related to this damaging earthquake. To help us preserve these precious stories and learn more about the earthquake, please share your story and memories with us.

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