I can't believe it has already been 20 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked California in 1989.
Below is a quick summary of what I remember from that day. Please, share your stories as well - if you experienced it in person or not.
Earthquake - The ’89 Ghost
Joe Nielsen, Santa Rosa
The date was October 17, 1989. I was at home doing homework while my uncle took care of me while my parents were away. Not knowing what was to come I settled down onto the floor of my home’s family room to start my studies for the night. (I was six-years-old at the time.) In the midst of what seemed to be page after page of work to do, I glanced up to see a hanging plant inside the house swinging back and forth. I thought to myself, “That’s strange. I think we have a ghost!” As the eerie thought entered my mind I began to see another plant swaying back and forth from the ceiling. “Another ghost!” It was at this moment my uncle urged me to the couch for safety because “we [were] having an earthquake.” (Looking back the couch probably wasn’t the best place to go during a natural disaster, but hindsight is always 20/20. Plus, I was only six-years-old and doing what my uncle told me to do!)
Anyway...as the “ghost” continued its turmoil on Santa Rosa (and the rest of the Bay Area for that matter), I thought to myself of all the safety lessons I had learned about in school. I remembered to check for gas smells due to possible cracked gas lines. I remembered to check for leaky faucets. I even urged my uncle to come outside with me to the street so I could search for cracks in the asphalt. (I viewed myself as a possible traffic guard helping to guide traffic around the horrible holes in the road the evil “ghost” possibly had created.) Fortunately for my neighborhood (and my uncle’s sanity) no damage was found.
Later that night video footage and photographs began to pour into television stations of all the damage created by the earthquake. The visuals of the Bay Bridge almost cut in half, freeways collapsed onto one another, and houses being propped up by locals are still very fresh in my now 26-year-old mind. The images of blood trickling down peoples’ faces, dead bodies being carted away, and the sounds of humans crying haunt me to this day.
Without a doubt that October evening was the most eventful night of doing homework in my life. And to think it would not have been possible without the participation of “The ’89 Ghost.”