Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

I worked in the San Jose—Sunnyvale area for 1974 to 1989. We had experienced numerous local earthquakes in the 5.0 or less category. Hearing, feeling earthquakes and seeing the asphalt and cement roll in the distance was not uncommon. I commuted between Hayward and Sunnyvale using a 4 wheel drive Toyota Truck.

I arrived in Hayward at 4:00 P. M. on 10-18-89. I turned on the television (TV). About 5:05 pm a rumbling began then abrupt shaking. I got to my feet, struggled, lost my balance and ran out the front door to the front porch and patio. The shaking gave way to ground movement. The ground moved South to my left, then to the North (right) and then back to its original position. The truck rocked on heavy duty springs in a sea saw motion. I had no way to know immediately how severe the earthquake had been or if any of my family had been killed or injured.

The telephone system was briefly overwhelmed but the power was still on. The television station continued to broadcast. There were pictures of the Watsonville and Santa Cruz areas (failed brick structures mostly). Unfiltered pictures were shown of the dead being pulled out of debris (mostly brick walls and facades). Raw footage of the Cypress Freeway showed smoke and dust. The commenter had no idea initially that the freeway had collapsed and the injured, dead and dying where trapped underneath. Later, there were pictures of brave souls who climbed the structures using ladders, climbing over debris trying to help people who were trapped. The aftershocks came. The help continued.

What I saw, felt and heard was a minuscule part of the natural events having substantial consequences for Northern California residents and visitors.

Rick Ferry April 5, 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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