Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

I was only 9 months old at the time, but I lived with my family in a small one-story house right along the steep cliff over the Pacific. One of my family’s favorite past-times was to spend evenings at the nearby Natural Bridges beach. It was only two years since they emigrated from Europe and they were still trying to get used to a new life in a new country.

The earthquake struck that one evening; mom quickly picked me up and took cover while the ground shook hard. It was something they never experienced before. But upon discovering what remained in the downtown area, it transformed my family to be more aware and cautious about disasters in their new home. It was something that they taught to me as I grew up.

21 years later, while organizing boxes of old photos, I came across photos of the aftermath in downtown Santa Cruz, and an old cassette tape containing live broadcasts of a local radio station directing information about supplies, shelter, and latest reports on missing persons. The images of the remains of what was once a thriving street left me to think about how miraculous that anyone could survive a devastating earthquake. It also left me to think how, even if one’s memory can’t reach far back, an earthquake could change one’s lives, and teach a lesson for future generations.

Nick B May 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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