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Remembering Loma Prieta


It is October 17,1989, the weather is nice and warm. No body knew that this day would be become a world-famous day. The infamous Loma Prieta, or The Quake of ’89, occurred at 5:04pm that day, landing at 7.1 on the Richter scale. Joanne S. was 54 years old at the time, and remembers this day very well. Last weekend, I called her up and we had a very long interview over the phone on this event.
Joanne was walking with her coworker out of her office at Triple A when she left work, at 5:00pm. It was soon 5:04pm and she started walking to her car when she noticed the trees starting to shake. The Loma Prieta had begun! Her and her friend took hold of a chain-link fence for the 15 seconds this horrible quake lasted for. Everything around her shook, the fence, ground- even she was shaking! Although it was only for 15 seconds, those few seconds were very, very intense. After the quake stopped, she got into her car and started for home. She stopped shaking, but was worried sick about her husband and six sons. She had know idea where they were and if they were okay or not.

Turns out, her husband, Hank, and three of their sons were at the World Series. They were in the Candlestick Park parking lot at the time, trying to get tickets to see the game. When the quake started, they did not think it was very bad, so they got their tickets, went into the stadium, and sat down! Soon, the announcers said everyone had to leave, and Hank and the boys headed home. The bridges and public transportation were all closed, so it took them hours to get home. Meanwhile, two of Joanne’s other sons were at safe, away at college. It took her a long time to reach by phone all of them. Still, Joanne was unbelievably worried about them!

When Joanne got to her house the fire department and all the neighbors were outside in the street. Then she started to wonder if the house was still standing or not. Luckily, her house was fine. When that was settled, Joanne was afraid that their gas had exploded, so she had a fireman check it out and it turned out all right. Everyone in the neighborhood panicked for a while about all the commotion around them. Now that everyone in her family was safe and sound, she started worrying about another quake. They did have a small aftershock 37 minutes after, but it was only a 5.2 on the Richter scale. “You worry until you talk to your family yourself to see if they are ok,” Joanne states about her worries on that October day.
Joanne remembers October 17, 1989 fairly well because she “had never been in an earthquake that bad before”. For 3 days after the quake, she had no lights or electricity. She can never forget that day! Unfortunately, she does not remember the next few days very well. She does not remember going to work that day, since the quake was so intense; she only remembers that one day very well. Faintly, she reminisces about seeing pictures of the Bay Bridge collapsing, mostly because one of her sons had just gotten off of it. The pictures of the Cypress were deadly, capturing all of those people underneath it. It took days to get all of those people out, many of whom did not survive. Now, when Joanne drives on an underpass, she gets freaked out. She is scared that the overpass will collapse on top of her or not, and she plainly just does not like them at all.
After research on the earthquake, I found even more disastrous news. Twenty-seven fires broke out, one big one near the Marina District, sinking a building built on mud. The curviest street in the world, Lombard Street, was left stranded, with power failure until October 20th. The quake killed about 62 people in Central San Francisco, too! When fires arose, people relied on fire alarm boxes, because there was a fire in the 911-telephone equipment room. From the power outage, San Francisco was dark for the 1st time since the 1906 earthquake.
To sum it all up, the Loma Prieta was very intense and life changing for most people. Joanne remembers this quake very well, and it is hard to forget something as tragic as the earthquake was. The Loma Prieta earthquake left a huge impact on many people, including Joanne.




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