Loma Prieta Earthquake – 1989

I lived in Marin County, just north of San Francisco for most of the 1980’s. I don’t remember feeling many if any earthquakes until the October 17 1989 Loma Prieta quake.
At the time I was working at the Good Earth Natural Foods store in Fairfax on Bolinas Road, and doing housecleaning jobs all over Marin.

This particular day started out normally, I did my morning job and then went by the store (GE). While I was there I started getting this real ‘hinky feeling’, for no reason I could explain I called and cancelled my afternoon house cleaning job down in Sausalito (just north of the Golden Gate Bridge). Then I proceeded to buy large bottles of water, candles, matches, easy to prepare food stuff. I felt like I was in a daze, not quite all there. I drove down to the Post Office in Fairfax and ran into a couple friends, we both commented on a ‘strange day feeling’ and went about our business.

I drove to San Anselmo, where I lived at the time. I parked my 1968 VW bus in the driveway of the house where I lived, which wasn’t something I usually did. (The owner didn’t like it.) My room was the lower floor of a 2 story brick older home.

I remember setting the bags on the floor in the middle of the room and I sat down there too. This was not the ‘normal’ routine. Nothing about the day felt normal.
The next thing I remember was hearing a very loud ‘CRACK’ sound, my first thought was that something in the adjacent garage had been knocked over, but before I could get up the TV which was on a wimpy tv rack was on my back. I got that back in place and realized what was going on.
I opened the door to the driveway and watched as my bus bounced up and down, back to front – over and over again. Imagine what a rug looks like if you shake it out, the ripples in it.. the earth was rippling under my feet.

I looked up at Mt Baldy and the trees were doing hulus.. I had never seen anything like this before.

It seemed to go on for a very long time.
I went in and turned on the TV.. and got the news feed coming from the World Series at Candlestick Park in SF..
In a daze it became apparent this was a big quake.

Outside in my neighborhood people were screaming and running with babes in arms..where to I don’t know or understand. My landlord called and said, “Don’t let the old man next door turn off our gas or we won’t get it back for weeks.” I did stop him from turning the gas off. There was really little damage in San Anselmo, or Marin, a great shaking up but nothing like what was happening in the city, or really further south in the Santa Cruz area, where this quake’s epicenter was at.

I became glued to the tv watching all the horrors of pancaked houses, freeways, and bridges collapse. For days.

More than anything, I started to pay attention to this ‘feeling’ I had had that day. I call it my earthquake radar, and many times I have felt it before a quake hits, sometimes I get a ‘hinky’ feeling days in advance of something big. Mainly I need to get out of the way and pay attention to it.. it is right more times than not.

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3 thoughts on “Loma Prieta Earthquake – 1989

  1. Kym Kemp

    I was at UC Berkeley and completely oblivious. I was walking through campus when I stumbled and a big gust of wind blew leaves out of the trees. I walked to Bart and sat there for 15 minutes wondering why the train didn’t run when a message scampered over the screen explaining that a quake had hit. I obviously don’t have the “feeling.” Even when the quake hits, I’m unaware….

  2. bobbi Post author

    LOL Kym… good thing one of us has it! No really, I have a few other posts that tie into this one of the ‘quake-dar’. It was also the last thing, that prompted my move to Humboldt. And perhaps is partly the reason I am so into preparedness… writing a post for SoHumAwarness.org about that this week..

  3. Mary Giardino

    I was in Santa Cruz that day. We ran out into the street and watched the cars bounce around on that “shaken rug” of the pavement. We were out of electricity for a week. All of my belongings were packed under tarps in the middle of my apartment as it was being painted; I was staying with a friend in a college neighborhood where we older folk (I was 28!) served as counselors and surrogates for the kids who were really shaken up. I remember going downtown to read the one copy of the newspaper that they could print. It was hung prominently on a fence so several people could read it at once.


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