Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

I was working for an engineering firm in a downtown office. It was nearly 5PM, and we were all getting ready to go home. Many had already left to watch the world series for the weekend.

Our office had a perfect view of he Bay Bridge, as we were on the fifth floor. As he quake hit, I ran to he window. I could see a wave in the pavement moving rapidly down Beale. It hit the building with a tremendous jolt. There was little damage in the building. The power remained on. I sat down quickly at my computer and began an orderly shutdown. Just before I was going to hit the power switch, the lights went off. They remained off for over a day.

The entire downtown scene was chaos. The traffic lights were out, and none of the electric transporation was working. Traffic was snarled in a stagnation of uncoordinated signals. People milled around as if lost in a drugged stupor. The experienced darted to catch ferries which took them out of town. The bars were dark, but lit with candles, and full of people who were talking wildly over the days event and drinking tapped beer. The doors were flung open, and people spilled out onto the street. The sense of community was palpable.

I began walking home, because none of the trains were working. I had just purchased a cheap set of Hungarian dress shoes which I wore all the way through the soles that day. After half an hour of walking, I decided to grab a Muni. After riding it for several blocks, I decided that it was moving no faster than I was, so I got out and walked the rest of the way.

It was unseasonably warm, and a Friday night, as I recall. The next day was sunny and beautiful. The phones were working, so I invited my friend over the next day for a barbeque in the back yard of my Inner Sunset flat.

Chris Cory February 23, 2010

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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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