Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes Really Shake You Up

Like many people, I discovered the horrible events in Japan last night on TV. The scenes of devastation are shocking and my heart goes out to the families who lost relatives, friends and property in the sudden tsunami waves.

As a Californian, I am used to earthquakes but not to tsunamis (at least the kind that have been ravaging the Japanese coast). I felt my first earthquake when I was in the 8th grade and we were, strangely enough, discussing earthquakes in Science class. I had lived in California for about a month then and it was quite upsetting.

I remember numerous quakes in the late 1970s that moved the hanging lamps and created news for a day or two. The big one was, of course, the Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 17, 1989. I was working at the Oakland Coliseum and when I felt the earth move, I ducked under my desk like a well-trained citizen. Nothing fell on me, but a thick fog of dust was shaken loose from the building's rafters. I later learned that 24 of the more than 800 windows in the circular building had broken.

At home, all of my bookcases lay flat on the floor, their contents spread around the room (along with the shards of the glass bowls that had rested atop them that morning). I recall lights out in big areas and taking a wild ride to get my new bride at her co-worker's house across the bay.

We recovered quickly, except for having a piece of the Bay Bridge broken (and the bridge closed for a month to fix it) and much worse, the Cypress Freeway structure that pancaked. I normally drove to work on that freeway (and had that very morning) but I excaped being flattened.

In California we all live with the reality that another big one could come at any time. Hope it's not anytime soon.

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