Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

In 1989, I was a training supervisor for Maritz Travel Company in Los Angeles. We had recently opened a travel reservation’s office for Apple Computer in Cupertino. On the ill-fated day, I flew up to San Jose Airport to spend the day observing and training our new agents, mostly young women.

At the end of the day, I remember standing on the reservations floor…and then the building shook. My native California experience led me to shout, “Get under your desks!” as I dove underneath an empty desk nearby. Surprisingly, another young lady saw the same desk and wedged herself into the already cramped space next to me and then dug her fingernails into my left forearm as she tensed. “Aaaaagh!”

The shaking subsided and I extracted the still curled fingers from around my arm. As I got up, I made sure that no one was hurt and began to survey the damage. Not much. A few monitors had fallen over, but we were still in business.

After about a half-hour, Nancy, the office manager, upon hearing some of the early damage reports on the radio, told the young ladies that those who lived nearby could go home; but those who lived in the outlying areas should probably not be on the road. Most traffic signals were out and debris and rockslides were a hazard to those driving in the hills. I was also stranded due to the airport closure at SJC.

The manager gave the seven or eight stranded ladies her home address in Mountain View and told them they were going to bunk there tonight. The best part? I got to sleep over as well! YES!! We all had a very nice party that night!

P.S. No longer in the travel industry, I am now an emergency manager who, among other things, helps people plan for disasters such as earthquakes.

Bob Beecher April 9, 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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