Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

I was an Interior Design student at Academy of Art College located on Northpoint Street across from Pier 39. At 4:30, the afternoon class ends and everyone congregates at the lobby for coffee. Some have to prepare for the 6-9pm Evening Classes which I had. So, right before the earthquake, I decided to kill time and proceed to the Library to catch up on magazines. I took the elevator to the second floor just in time…I walked in alone and as the elevator situated itself on the floor. A sharp jolt shook it…feeling as if people where fighting outside and had pushed it…and within seconds the whole elevator shook vigorously for how many seconds and it continued, and the lights went off as the door opened for about 6 inches…just enough for me to pry it open.

As I manually opened it ajar…all I can see was darkness in the hallways, sound of fire alarm ringing, students screaming to evacuate the building…! There were areas where the sprinkler system activated that got everyone wet! We all ran down the emergency exits and spilled out on the streets. What we thought was just a strong quake, ended up being a devastating earthquake as people huddled by cars and listened to the news. The Bay Bridge had fallen into the Bay?!?!…A friend of mine decided to take the electric-powered bus which eventually got stranded somewhere around the Financial District due to either a powere outage and/or traffic jam…we walk down Montgomery Street and saw glass everywhere strewn all over. So, fearing another aftershock, I told my friend we should run and avoid this area of tall buildings of glass!!!

As the darkness hit the city…the intersections were just stopped, no traffic lights…pure darkness! I had instructed an uncle to take the freeway to pick me up in South of Market at 3rd and Folsom! BIG MISTAKE! No Cellphones at the time and land lines were dead. It took him 2 hours to get to where I am and another 3 hours to get to the Sunset District of San Francisco at 38th Avenue and Lincoln. I made it home right before midnight…to find out that everything was off the walls and the whole place was strewn with debris…

Michael Bello February 26, 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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