Today in My History
Survived Mothers Day
WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN'
15 May 2020
There was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Tonopah, Nevada around 4 a.m. this morning. It was felt as far away as San Francisco, though I slept through it, so I don't know how strong it was felt here.
6.5 is a pretty strong earthquake.
Having grown up in San Francisco, I am fairly blasé about earthquakes. I'm more terrified about the idea of a hurricane or tornado, but we are used to earthquakes. They only last a few seconds (or minutes) and then they're over and most of them don't do much damage.
The strongest earthquake I felt was a 5.7 in 1957. It struck in the morning and I was at school. They closed the school and sent everyone home. (I wanted to stay but they made me go.)
My mother and I were making a novena at St. Dominic's church in San Francisco.
A bunch of us gathered inside the church to pray together every night for nine nights. As we were kneeling in the church that night, an aftershock struck. I remember the priest, trying to calm us saying "don't worry. You're in the best place you can be."
But I don't know. I looked around the inside of the church....
...and I wasn't sure that this building was exactly the best place to be when the ground was shaking!
The thing about earthquakes is that when one hits, especially the San Francisco area, the media goes crazy. We get calls and emails to ask if we are ok because the headlines in newspapers on the east coast read "San Francisco destroyed."
The Loma Prieta earthquake, in 1989, was pretty big--a 6.9-7.2--that lasted 8 seconds and caused a freeway to collapse in the east bay. Pictures like this show people across the country that San Francisco was destroyed.
But actually most of San Francisco sits on very steady hills that aren't really affected by the earthquake. This building is in the Marina, which was built on fill land so the ground isn't firm and when the earth moves, the ground undergoes liquefaction. (Liquefaction is a phenomenon in which the strength and stiffness of a soil is reduced by earthquake shaking or other rapid loading.)
The buildings which collapsed were buildings in which there was an opening to a garage on each corner of the edge of the building, so there was not as strong a support for the rest of the building. I think there were something like five...or maybe seven...buildings which collapsed in the 1989 earthquake, but no major damage elsewhere.
The earthquake happened when people were waiting for the start of the World Series. Tom and David were at the stadium with Walt's brother and his wife. Ned and Marta lived in Oakland and Ned was working in a video store. Walt was in Maryland. Jeri was commuting across the bridge from San Francisco to Walt's mother's house, Paul was here in Davis with me.
I felt the earthquake at my office and knew that if I could feel it here in Davis, it must be a pretty big quake. I immediately called Marta, who told me that Ned was fine. By the time I got to my car to go home, news reports were saying that everyone at the stadium was fine, so I didn't worry about Tom and David. I knew Paul and Walt were fine, but I didn't know about Jeri until late at night.
A section of the bridge that she would be crossing had collapsed
This was before we all had cell phones, so she wasn't able to call until 10 p.m. She was felt the quake in her car, but thought it was a flat tire. She continued onto the bridge and of course all traffic stopped. They had to move all cars onto Treasure Island, so they could turn around and drive back into the city. All the electricity in the city was out and she finally found a pay phone and called because she didn't know where to go. Dumb me, it never occurred to me to have her go to Char's house, but I did give her directions to the house of a Lamplighter friend and she spent the night there.
There hasn't been as big an earthquake in SF since 1989 and we are still waiting for the inevitable "big one." But I figure we are safe in Davis. At the worst, we might end up with beach front property.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
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This is entry #7326