Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hace veinte años

17 October 1989

Padre Mickey posted his reminiscences of the Loma Prieta Quake and invited others to share. You may read his comments here. I am pasting below what I put in comments at his site.

I was chatting with coworkers when the building began to shake. A native Californian, I was blase for a few seconds then said, "this feels like a big one." For a second longer I was grateful to be in a doorframe when I remembered the glass in the transom over our heads. Peter, another really big fellow, and I dived under a small table. When the shaking stopped everyone exited the building. Facade had fallen off the brick building across the streets and there was a cloud of cement dust. I held on colleague as she was shaking terribly. Another shouted, "my child" and hurried off in her car. We saw black smoke rising in downtown Berkeley - a tire fire in an auto shop. We all then headed home, totally unaware of the larger picture.

I took surface streets instead of freeway. All the traffic lights were out and people were taking turns in intersections. People were incredibly gracious and cooperative. I got home rather quickly. The only damage in the house was one vase that had hopped off a bookshelf and shattered. I was able to call family. I waited for Bill.

It was hours before he got home as he had to take a bus, instead of BART. I tried to stay positive but was a bit of a wreck until I heard his key in the door. He took the car and gave one of his coworker's a ride to the BART parking lot in Richmond so she could get home.

I worked for a biotech firm. There was major damage in the labs. We stayed home a few days. One friend had driven home on the Cypress Freeway before it collapsed. Some friends were at the World Series. Everybody had a story. I doubt any of us have forgotten where we were and how that day unfolded for us.

Those at the World Series returned to the East Bay by way of the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin then across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to the north end of the East Bay. It took many hours.

One coworker lived in the Marina, the area in San Francisco build on landfill that had so much damage and fires. We could not reach her and were terribly concerned. She also had a loft just blocks from work where she had her art studio. We finally learned she was there and not in San Francisco at all. Blessedly, her apartment in the Marina was not damaged as so many had been.

--the BB

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