Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

(Poem) Nightline: October 17, 1989

That dark night in New York
it was late afternoon in San Francisco
where my heart was.
TV off, radio not yet tuned…to shatter
my blissful ignorance with
news
that was to set my mind reeling u n e n d i n g pleadings:
Dear God My God Heavenly Father
Let the telephone ring his voice his voice
I must hear his voice!

RING, I COMMAND YOU, RING1

Dumbly it sits,
black plastic mediator
between heaven and hell…
Dumbly I press my prayers
Ted Koppel by now Channel 7
repeating “7 on the Richter Scale”
Biblical cultural mystical “seven”
explaining Richter’s numerical system
exponentially-increased destructive power
from digit to digit
burning it violently into my brain
7 VII seven!
remarking the widespread fires–
Pacific Heights ablaze–
Upper roadway of Bay Bridge
collapsed onto lower…
the Marina in ruins!
Koppel pronouncing “second biggest ever in the United States”
7 7 7! RING DAMN IT! RING!

One hundred years
later at 2:14 A.M. New York City time
what was it she actually said? -
my Ringing Angel of the Grapevine -
my son’s best friend’s Mom:
“Phone lines down, Boys okay. Seen in town…
helping the wounded.”

But what I heard and saw
was all the music I’d ever loved
sunlight wildflowers snow
Tahoe mountain trails
gentling
joyous
skiers
safely
down
steep
slopes

(by Velma Jean Reeb 12/4/2004(c)

Velma Jean Reeb April 4, 2014

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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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