Loma Prieta Earthquake Stories

I was a fourth-grade teacher in Salinas. The day after the earthquake, 10-18-89, school was cancelled. It was traumatic for everyone, especially children. What could I do for my students when school resumed on Oct. 19?

The day school was cancelled I wrote a song, “Loma Prieta Rap.” It was cathartic for my students and for me. It was a way to face the trauma and yell back at it. The rap was also about earthquake safety and preparedness: 1) run towards a door, to brace yourself under a door jam or run outside, if possible; 2) the implied message of having a working flashlight; 3) get under a table; 4) be prepared with stored water

Anyone who lived through it knows how hard it was psychologically to spend the next two weeks being shaken from your sleep at 3:00 in the morning; you didn’t go back to sleep after those aftershocks.

Today is ten days away from the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Yesterday, after 25 years, I recorded my rap and put it on YouTube. GO TO YouTube, AND TYPE IN THE FOLLOWING IN THE SEARCH BOX: “Loma Prieta Rap”. The words of the 45-second rap are written just below the screen. Sing along! It’s a lot cooler to sing the rap with a class full of 4th graders. Hey, maybe you were there. Maybe you were in Mr. Sparks’ classroom at Sherwood Elementary in Salinas. You’re 34 now and you just might have a 4th grader of your own. So, do your homework, get prepared, sing it with your kid, and get ready in case we have another earthquake!

Daniel Sparks October 7, 2014

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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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