Oct.17 – The 31st Anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake

October 17, 2020 10:00 am · 37 comments

Today is the 31st anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

It happened on October 17, 1989, and measured 6.9 on the richter scale. It killed 63 people and injured thousands more.

Do you remember the quake, and if so, where were you when it happened on October 17, 1989 at 5:04 p.m.?

Ricardoh October 17, 2020 at 10:15 AM

I had just crossed the Bay Bridge and stopped in Safeway in the Creek on my way home. Still shopping but near the doors I left the building with the crowd. In the parking lot the lighting poles were still swaying. The following days on my way home from the City I heard a whole world series game that started when I got on the San Mateo bridge and ended when I got off of the bridge.

Ash October 17, 2020 at 10:15 AM

working at the old Ellenwood Complex for BofA, building shook, shades rattled against windows, seem to last forever.

thank God I wasn’t on the Cypress with all the other poor souls. RIP

Shoulda Coulda October 17, 2020 at 1:11 PM

Ash-

My wife was working out of the CHP
headquarters in Oakland at the time.
Her beat included the Cypress Structure.
Luckily she wasn’t on duty at the time of
the collapse. All officers were told to report
for duty. Because of her smaller stature
she was able to crawl into the collapsed
structure to do body identification. She also
escorted the survivor Buck Helm to the
hospital. She is one tough cookie who was
proud to serve & protect.

Silva October 17, 2020 at 2:08 PM

Wow, Shoulda Coulda. My little family and I lived 2 blocks from the Cypress structure. I won’t be forgetting any of it anytime soon. A big hug and thank you to your wife.

Shoulda Coulda October 17, 2020 at 2:42 PM

Thanks Silva-

My wife is about 10 times tougher than me.
They would sometimes let her bring her vehicle
home from work. When anyone saw it they would
always ask me how long I’d been an officer.
No one ever guessed that it was her. I saw firsthand
how all of you women have a harder time proving
yourself on the job. You have my respect!

Roz October 17, 2020 at 3:01 PM

Shoulda Coulda~
Sounds like you have #1 cool wife!

Silva October 17, 2020 at 3:41 PM

Your wife must be V E R Y cool indeed. You’re a good egg too, Shoulda Coulda.

Shoulda Coulda October 17, 2020 at 3:45 PM

Silva-

We brought a load of relief supplies that were
donated by CHP officers, Chevron employees
and City of Walnut Creek employees down to
the area near where you were living. Also took
a donated load for the folks in Watsonville.
I’ve never seen so many collapsed chimneys
in my life. It was so fortunate that there was very
lite traffic on the Cypress Structure at the time of
the quake. Most folks had gone home early to
watch the World Series. On any other day there
would have been heavy commute traffic with a
much greater loss of life.

Silva October 17, 2020 at 6:42 PM

Oh yeah, I had kind of forgotten about Watsonville. That game really was such a massive saving grace. There almost was no traffic relative to a normal day at that time. It was very convenient, but I avoided the Cypress structure. The lower level especially gave me the heebie jeebies. I always looked up at those enormous concrete joists(?) as the car passed under them, and I couldn’t help but envision what they would do to a piece of metal. I lived there a little over 11 years before that, and I almost always drove the extra 20 blocks or so to get to another entrance. I knew that wouldn’t be a nice place to be in a big one.. shudder..

Shoulda Coulda October 18, 2020 at 11:08 AM

Thanks Silva-

You’ve got a big heart. I’m the President
of the local chapter of your fan club.
I always enjoy reading your thoughtful
comments. Stay healthy & safe my friend.

Silva October 18, 2020 at 1:12 PM

❤️Thank you. Honestly, I really look forward to your posts too! You stay safe and well too, Shoulda Coulda.

Bob October 17, 2020 at 10:28 AM

Geez Mayor, dont jinx us

chuckie the troll October 17, 2020 at 10:46 AM

At home, watching the World Series. Held onto the TV stand to keep it from falling over. Gave my parents a quick phone call to say I was safe before the line went dead. My wife was in (the original) Lucky’s with our young son about ready to check out. The Liquor isle was liquidated around her, and with no power she couldn’t buy the food in her cart. Now, we have food and water for at least 2 weeks, just in case.

Jim October 17, 2020 at 10:56 AM

Marie and I were in one of the top rows of Candlestick Park. The fans were all stomping their feet when it struck. Our initial thought was not of an earthquake. We “knew” the game would start soon when the announcer told us to leave the stadium. My portable TV showed the collapsed bay bridge, We had to return to Walnut Creek by the San Mateo Bridge (after the engineers checked it) Roger Craig drove down the side of the freeway with several players in the bed of his pickup. Our children were babysitting at our home and we did not yet have a cell phone to check on them. Fortunately, we had no injuries or serious damage.

Ricardoh October 17, 2020 at 11:46 AM

That had to be a worrying experience. For sure not a fun ride home.

Dawg October 17, 2020 at 11:28 AM

I was working at the Port of Oakland close enough to the Bay Bridge that we could see the section that collapsed. The worst part was driving home, it literally took 45 minutes to drive through the Caldecott Tunnel.
It wasn’t my fault, it was San Andreas.

Bob October 17, 2020 at 11:39 AM

I was on the 3rd deck at Candlestick–boy, what a ride! scarred the —- out of me–got home (Concord) about 3 a.m.

Have the original ticket and the make up ticket–may be a collector’s item in the future–

Dorothy October 17, 2020 at 11:40 AM

Brother & I were driving home on a pot holed road. We just thought the potholes were extra bumpy. Didn’t know there was a quake until we got to my mother’s and found his daughters under her kitchen table and her a nervous wreck. Then she got mad because the Giants game was off air and cancelled. On a different note: It was the exact 1 year anniversary of the day I gave up smoking.

Anne October 17, 2020 at 11:46 AM

I was in the underground garage at the corner of Ygnacio and Main. I thought it was a big truck driving in on the floor above. Got outside and wondered why people were standing around and I couldn’t get the Ballgame on the radio. I got home and took in the neighborhood kids who were home alone. Hot dogs and potato chips all around. Finally got a station from Sacramento on the TV with the rabbit ears. I was shocked at the destruction and loss of life.

Leah October 17, 2020 at 12:01 PM

I had gone into the City w/ 3month old baby to visit MIL at her office in the 1930s vintage Shell Building This earthquake was a long one. I remember someone screaming from the full elevators. As we descended the stairs, I noticed more cracking at each landing. Arriving at ground floor, all the shop windows had fallen out onto the sidewalks. My husband’s modern office bldg looked intact, but underground pipes ruptured and filled the basement a foot deep in water. Had to turn off the electricity! Arrived at Gramma’s apt, sadly watched the horrible fires at the Marina

Kirkwood October 17, 2020 at 12:16 PM

Was preparing dinner. Pictures banged and something fell in another room. In disasters, certain City employees are supposed to report to work without being called. Driving down Concord Blvd. and through town all the traffic lights were out but I’ve never seen so many polite and considerate drivers at the intersections. When I got to the Pump Station the power was out and the generator was running. Power came back a short time later.

Ilovepopcorn October 17, 2020 at 12:26 PM

We (my coworkers) and I were listing to the baseball game on the UC BERKELEY VANPOOL over Fish Ranch Road! We did not feel a thing! When we merged on 24 past the Caldecott tunnel, we noticed that everyone was pulled over looking at their tires! So weird.

Big Rob October 17, 2020 at 12:32 PM

Born and raised in the bay area. Living in Oakland during this. EQs are the norm for us. But you immediately knew this was far was than typical. Upon leaving the house, all of the neighbors were gathered out in the middle of the street. Every brick chimney on the block had collapsed. Noting smoke in the distance, we all headed to the end of the block. Where we noted the collapsed Cyprus freeway had collapsed. A few of us ran a few blocks to lend a hand. A moment none of us have forgotten.

Cowellian October 17, 2020 at 12:39 PM

I remember!
We had been in California for less than a year and hadn’t yet experienced an earthquake. I was home in Pittsburg with the kids, and my wife wasn’t home yet. I had just turned on the game, and I noticed the shocked faces of the announcers. Then we started rolling. The younger kids had been playing on the swings, so they didn’t feel it. They did come running in later to tell me about the waves in the neighbor’s pool. I had to tell the kids that Mommy was fine and would be home as soon as she could, when I actually had no idea where she was and if she was safe.

Kentucky Derby October 17, 2020 at 12:41 PM

Candlestick Park. We had just arrived. We were in the 1st deck with family and friends, so we didn’t feel the “3rd row ride.”

Winnie The Pooh October 17, 2020 at 1:06 PM

I was six years old and at daycare at Mountain View Elementary on this day. When the daycare started to shake, the teachers had the kids go outside onto the grass. Once it was over we went back inside.

ClayDen October 17, 2020 at 1:43 PM

I was having dinner at my hotel in Washington DC on a business trip there at the start of a two week assignment. I got back to my room and turned on the TV to see what was happening in the game. I tried for two hours to get through to my wife to no avail, when she finally managed to get through to me.

Derb October 17, 2020 at 2:00 PM

I was in the kitchen drinking a beer & just beginning to make dinner when the earthquake hit. The whole house shook & I almost lost my balance. My first thought was, “Boy this beer must have a high alcohol percentage!” The TV was on for the World Series but quickly turn off. My mom in LA called to see if we were OK & to tell me that the Bay Bridge had collapsed! That terrified me because my husband was commuting home. He wasn’t on the bridge at that time & said he didn’t know there was an earthquake just thought he’d blown a tire.

Future Catlady October 17, 2020 at 2:34 PM

I was working in the financial district in a high rise building and stayed a couple of minutes late to do something for my boss. All of the sudden the building starting shaking like crazy…I thought it was the end of the world. The street I walked down to get to the Montgomery Street Bart Station had lots of bricks on the sidewalk that had fallen from the buildings. Bart was not running so I took a bus to my mom’s house. I wasn’t able to get back to the east bay until the wee hours.

Schmee October 17, 2020 at 2:45 PM

I was at heather farms pool about to walk out to the parking lot and the water in the pool started splashing from end to end like a wave pool crashing out of the pool over the edge at least 2-3 feet high. There were swimmers in the pool and the coach started yelling earthquake!! Everybody out!! Luckily they all got out of the water safe. We thought it was a swimming drill at first.

Roz October 17, 2020 at 3:11 PM

We were on our way out for my Birthday dinner at my Parent’s. Came back up the street to check our house and everything was O.K. So, to Mom & Dad’s for Lasagna Dinner,…Yum! Oh,…and the earthquake was NOT my Fault,…he-he!

S October 17, 2020 at 5:13 PM

Well then….. Happy Birthday

Danny October 17, 2020 at 3:54 PM

I was just a kid when this happened, I was living in Oakland and we got hit hard. Scariest day of my life.

Steve October 17, 2020 at 7:12 PM

I was there. I was an Intern for the SF Giants. I was going to SJSU at the time. I went to San Jose in the morning then headed to the stick. I was interning for the in house Jumbo Tron. I was on top of the Football Press box with an RF Transmitter for the in house RF Camera. When Quake hit My vision was the Light Standards Swaying back and Forth. I walked back to the control room and seeing a guy saying the Bay Bridge collapsed. I thought it all was gone. Just a section but still horrible. Took 6 hours to get home back to Concord via San mateo bridge. 2020 is worse!

FPN October 18, 2020 at 12:43 PM

KRON made a VHS tape of the earth quake I still have it. One of my clients had children and a wife trapped on the bridge. The children survived. It was one of the saddest storys coming out of the earthquake. I was at home when it hit. My whole neighborhood was in a panick because the neighborhood was young children home alone. My daughters knew exactly what to do when the earthquake struck me not so much. After the quake I had 20 freighted children in my home waiting for their parents and afraid to go home.

Ricardoh October 18, 2020 at 9:47 PM

Some very interesting experiences everyone had. Interesting reading them.

LinzerTorte_RN October 19, 2020 at 12:45 AM

I was four years old and my mom was picking me up at preschool. We had just gone over “earthquake safety” the day before. As we were checking out, the ground began to shake violently. My mom was running around, screaming, trying to help people (she’s a nurse), and I was standing in a doorway, trying to inform her that she was supposed to stay calm and get in a door jamb or under a desk. We made it back to our house and our pictures were off the wall, dishes shattered, and the fish tank was upended and the fish dead 🙁

My dad was due to return from his job in SF, and we couldn’t get a hold of him, no matter how hard we tried. The next day he called us and told us he had been on his way home, and had turned back and stayed in SF until the chaos had calmed. I remember thinking, prior to that call, that we had lost him. He was very close to being one of the cars that fell through the floor of the Bay Bridge. I will never forget that day and my heart goes out to those lost and injured.

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