Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

It was my freshman year at Stanford, and I had just started working at the Stanford Bookstore in the textbook department. As the new guy, my job for the day was to go around straightening out the books on the shelves, making sure everything was neatly organized…

My shift ended at 5, so I was just hanging around, talking to one of my co-workers when I started to feel the ground sway. Being a California native, my mind immediately raced through all of the steps they’d drilled into our heads in school - Desk? No. Table? No. Door frame!

I figured the quake would subside in a few seconds as it had always done in the past, but it seemed like this one lasted forever. Most of the bookshelves were on wheels so they started rolling back and forth across the floor, books flying everywhere.

Eventually, the shaking subsided and we all wandered outside in a daze. I remember seeing clouds of yellow hanging in the air which we at first thought was a gas leak, but was just pollen that had been shaken free from the trees. Walking by the clock tower, it was eerily frozen at 5:04 PM…

Steve Chin March 3, 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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