Loma Prieta Earthquake – 28 years later

I hadn’t realized yesterday marked the 28th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake (that big one that hit San Francisco hard). What most of those outside California may not realize is the epicenter was not in San Francisco but 60 miles south-southeast. You would never know it by the damage it caused.

I have experienced earthquakes all my life, since I have pretty much lived in Central California since my birth. The first earthquake I remember was when I was in the third grade. My desk was jolted and I turned around and yelled at the boy behind me, telling him to stop kicking my desk. Right about then, the teacher told us it was an earthquake (if I remember right, the earthquake drills were the same as the atomic bomb drills … Duck and Cover).

From then until 1989 (and since), the earthquakes are typically different. Have you ever stood up too fast (or turned around too fast) and got a little dizzy? That’s what they usually feel like. My husband knows if I stop what I am doing and stare at the ceiling fan (to see if it is swaying), I got dizzy and am checking for an earthquake.

I was nowhere near the epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I lived about 120 miles northeast. My 11 month old was napping and I had just sat down to watch the evening news when I was violently jolted from side to side. It was violent enough that if I had been sitting on a stool, it would have knocked me over. Then, a minute or so later (and 60 miles north of us) I see the news studio start shaking. It was surreal.

Once the details started trickling in and I watched with horror the continual coverage of the death and destruction caused by that earthquake, the “what-if” questions began rolling through my head: “What if the ceiling had fallen on us?” “What if the stairs were blocked and we couldn’t get out?” “Where would we go if we had to evacuate?” “How could we have survived with the amount of food in the house?”

Today I realized that was the day this prepper was born. I saw everything differently. I realized just how close I was to an operating nuclear power plant (and thought about how stupid it was that I had been there, swimming and fishing in the warm water … shudder). I realized just how close I was to the various military installations and weapons depots and national labratories and … I am sure you get the picture. Just imagine how much worse it would have been if I had been on the internet at the time!

My paranoia has ebbed and flowed over the years but believe it or not, the one thing I have not worried about is earthquakes. Where I live (a block from the mainline for the railroads) my house is jolted more when a train slams into a train car to hook it up than any earthquake since Loma Prieta. If a major earthquake were to hit, the possible damage here would be due to flooding (not the actual earthquake). That is, unless there is some hidden fault line no one knows about (which is always possible).

Now, my worries are not about North Korea, China, or Russia. My worries are about more mundane issues like: our health and happiness, my husband’s job security, my ability (or inability) to grow anything edible, crackheads, fires in our small community (old wooden houses built close together), reliability of the internet when asshats shoot their guns in the air and tag a junction box … you know, normal “living in a city” issues.

So, my trigger (to want to change my life in a big way) was Loma Prieta. What was yours?

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