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Diary of an Earthquake: 10/17/89

"Now, in the aftermath, every noise or movement causes silence and immediate reaction..." - Kirsten Anderberg's Diary, dated October 19, 1989/ At 5:04 pm, on October 17, 1989...I began to hear an odd noise. It sounded like a plane was going to crash into the building. Then I thought maybe it was a train...Everyone around me appeared to stop moving, as they listened. Then I noticed little puffs of dust coming out from in between the bricks of the library walls...
Chimneys fell in one piece onto lawns throughout Santa Cruz/ Photo: K. Anderberg
Chimneys fell in one piece onto lawns throughout Santa Cruz/ Photo: K. Anderberg
Diary of a Catastrophic Earthquake

"Now, in the aftermath, every noise or movement causes silence and immediate reaction..." - Kirsten Anderberg's Diary, dated October 19, 1989

At 5:04 pm, on October 17, 1989, I had just come from college classes, and was on my way to pick up my 5 year old son from his after school childcare. I decided to drop by the local library to pick up a few books to read to my son, and as I stood in the library, I began to hear an odd noise. It sounded like a plane was going to crash into the building. Then I thought maybe it was a train heading for the building, but then realized there were no tracks going *into* the library building. Everyone around me appeared to stop moving, as they listened. Then I noticed little puffs of dust coming out from in between the bricks of the library walls. Then, it hit. The floor began to shift dramatically, and I assumed it was an earthquake, and ran for the door. (The sounds I heard first were the P waves, which travel at speeds of about 3.1-3.7 miles per second through average earth crust, whereas the S waves that accompany quakes travel slower at about 2.0 miles per second. Thus when the quake hit, I heard the P waves *first* as they travelled faster from the epicenter than the S waves. How close you are to the epicenter also effects when the P and S waves hit you. People in San Francisco, which was 70 miles north of the epicenter in Santa Cruz, felt the quake approximately 23 seconds later than people in Santa Cruz felt it, and Sacramento (100 miles from the epicenter) felt it about 22 seconds after San Francisco felt it.)

I was in the Branceforte Library in the city of Santa Cruz, Ca. when the quake hit. As I ran for the library's front door to exit the building, I saw most of the people were getting under tables. As I ran, there was a strange undertow on the floor. Although I was trying to move my feet towards the door, which was to the east, my feet kept being pulled back to the west, behind me. It was odd, and the only thing I can really compare it to is the undertow I have felt in rip tides on Pacific Coast beaches. That is the only other time I have tried to walk one way, and had my feet pulled another. I also remember stepping high, over the first 6 inches on the floor, to sort of step out of that weird pulling field. It felt magnetic or gravitational, it was a pulling sensation, although very subtle, and it seemed you could step *above* it. Like my feet were only pulled when close to or touching the floor, I was out of that pulling field when my feet were up a few inches off the floor. It seemed the pulling energy was flowing across the surface of the floor.

As I made it through the library's front door, the ground was shifting violently beneath me and standing, walking, was a little hard. I ran out of the library to see telephone poles whipping back and forth like rubber, as the electrical wires above snapped and fell, still live, onto the sidewalks around us. Cars that were driving stopped in the middle of the street, askew, with doors open, asking what was going on. They say the quake lasted 15 seconds, but it seemed much longer, as if in slow motion.

As people began to discuss what had just happened, I ran as fast as I could towards my son's childcare, which was about 2 blocks away. When I got there, the teachers and kids were all huddled under tables, and the teachers looked white as ghosts. They were there with approximately 30 kids, and this was their first earthquake experience. Just as my son came out from under the table to go home with me, another serious quake hit, an aftershock, and we all ran to go under the tables again, but then it stopped. I grabbed my son's hand (he had turned 5 years old the week prior) and began to walk briskly home, as it was the evening, and it was getting dark, and I had no idea what was going on, the condition of our home after this quake, etc.

Reinforced chimneys fell in one chunk onto lawns in Santa Cruz after the quake hit...
Unreinforced chimneys fell as piles of brick beside houses...(Photos: K. Anderberg 1989)

As my son and I walked home, every single house we passed had its chimney down. They had all fallen either in solid blocks onto driveways and lawns (if they were reinforced), or they had fallen as piles of bricks scattered around a house and its roof (if it was unreinforced). Almost all of the plate glass windows were shattered from the houses we passed as well. We were hearing rumors on the street on our way home that all of the bridges that connect east and west Santa Cruz, over the San Lorenzo River, that goes to the sea, were broken and impassible. People were standing on their lawns, mystified, asking us as we scurried by, *what that was.* Some asked if it was a nuclear blast or a bomb. I said I thought it was an earthquake.

Due to my prior experience with the Sylmar 1971 quake, I have always noticed, and saved, articles about earthquake dangers in the areas I live in. In early 1989, prior to the October 1989 big quake, I read (and saved) two media reports out of the Monterey Bay area, about earthquake dangers looming. This Pacific Magazine , dated February 1989, and another clipping from the local Santa Cruz newspaper "Good Times," dated August 10, 1989, turned out to be prophetic. My archives for this earthquake, and others, are full of items like this.

Part of why I thought it was probably an earthquake is we had been having foreshocks. This was October 1989, but in August 1989, we had a few quakes that were so strong in Santa Cruz that I had gotten my son in my arms to exit our apartment, just as they stopped. I had begun stocking canned foods, bottled water, candles, matches, clean towels, etc. after that August 1989 quake. I even began to keep the lid on the toilet shut in case we had a quake and things flew in the bathroom, clogging the toilet, as happened in the 1971 Sylmar quake to my family. After a quake, you can often put water in the back of the tank and flush toilets, but when things fly from your medicine cabinet into your toilet and lodge there, clogging your toilet, you cannot flush it, and that is not fun. So, I had begun to shut my toilet seat due to that experience and my fears of an impending sizeable quake. Feeling it was probably a quake, especially due to the aftershocks, I thought we were probably okay, we had supplies, we lived in a one story wood apartment on solid bedrock, but, as we passed a small liquor store, I decided to dash in to buy some more candles and bottled water.

"We entered Days Market at about 5:25 pm. The floor had 2 inches of liquor and glass bottles broken. On top of that was a layer of alcohol-soaked merchandise. I walked on top of the merchandise to get to candles and water. It was almost debilitatingly pungent from all the alcohol and the lights were out. There was a line of approximately 10 people and a guy tried to walk out with a 12 pack of beer so the owner had to deal with attempted looting; the guy eventually paid. After I waited several minutes in fear with Gibralter within the store, finally we were next in line, and the next aftershock hit. Scared me to death. He let us buy 3 gallons of water and 3 packages of candles and then he said he wanted to close the store...

"Gibralter and I came home and our apartment neighbors were out front with radios and lawn chairs in the parking lot. By then we had heard Soquel Bridge has buckles and cracks, and we could see fire plumes downtown, and heard sirens downtown at about 5:15 pm, as we walked home. We saw Donna and Ari on our way home" - Kirsten Anderberg, Diary entry about October 17, 1989, right after quake (written Oct. 19, 1989)

As we approached the parking lot of our apartment complex, the residents were all hovered around a transistor radio. People were visibly shaken. We walked up to the circle and found out the Oakland Nimitz Freeway had collapsed in the quake, trapping people between the layers of concrete and that the people were still up there, and rescue teams were working as fast as they could, but that it was a horribly grizzly scene. The news of that was chilling. Immediately my mood changed to one of more seriousness and worry for our safety. Transcripts from the National Warning Center ( http://www.sfmuseum.net/quake/nawas.html) right after the quake show the chaos of the moment: "ALCO: "Just for info, I don't know - I - we - haven't done too much about this - the last few minutes here have been all crazy, but I don't know if you know the Cypress structure there in Oakland - the freeway overpass - is said to be totally down! We have a medical Red Alert going right now with quite a few ambulances going down in that direction.""

We were also told at this time that many buildings on the Santa Cruz Pacific Garden Mall, where I busked many days a week, had collapsed, some killing people, and some people were still missing and being dug out. As the scope of the quake began to set in, I went to my apartment to see if we had any structural damage. We had many plaster cracks, and all of our belongings were flung about the place as if we had been ransacked, but on the whole, our apartment was intact.

There are reports that a Domino's Pizza delivery man was asking for an address on Myrtle St. right before the quake hit. Who knows if he delivered it or not?! It would have been great to be handed a hot pizza right after that! Another report said that golf balls fell from trees at the local golf course as the quake hit, due to the balls that had been lodged in the trees being shaken loose...

As night came closer, there were rumors of stronger quakes looming, as we were having many aftershocks, and no one was sure if the big 7.1 hit was a foreshock or the actual peak quake. I began to get scared alone in an apartment with a 5 year old and no car or phone. We borrowed our neighbors' phone and asked my friend, who lived in a house not far away, who was also a single mom, if I could come stay with her. I told her I had my own water, toilet paper and food. My neighbor drove my son and me (and our sleeping bags, food, candles, water, toilet paper, etc.) the 2 miles to her house, and the traffic jams on all of the streets were chaotic. It took a long time just to get there. Once at her house, which she shared, there were many people around us and it was a little less scary. The house she rented had a large pool area, so everyone gathered out there, with sleeping bags for kids on the patio outside next to us sitting up by candlelight, listening to the radio, at the tables with sun umbrellas by the pool. Her apartment had flooded from her water heater falling over so we had to sleep outside, even though it was cold that night. Helicopters kept flying overhead all night long. We stayed up very late into the night, with people dropping in to tell us about the progress on the Mall, digging people out, etc. I believe I went to sleep at about 3 am, and got up at 6 am that night, but my son slept pretty soundly all night long. He did not seem to be very shaken by any of the events of the day. I had spent time explaining earthquakes to him even at as young an age as 3, as I felt it was better he knew what to do in a quake, than not. And I did not want him to be shocked by the concept as it happened. I wanted to demystify quakes before he experienced one so he did not panic, and that seems to have worked. My dad always acted like quakes were fun and exciting, that they were natural, and not scary. That attitude helped me handle quakes better as an adult.

On Oct. 18, 1989, in the morning, I woke up before everyone else, and wanted to urinate and was not sure where to do that! So, I walked to the alley behind the house, and as I began to pee back there, I remember thinking it was strangely quiet. Normal sounds you never noticed before were noticeable once gone. It was a loud silence. Traffic, construction, people sounds, all were gone. Once others got up, we decided to take the kids with us on a walk to town to see for ourselves what had happened downtown on the Mall. As we walked the streets towards the city center, we were stunned by the extent of the damage. The sidewalks looked like they had exploded, just popped open. Streets had splits in them, houses had jumped off foundations, front stairways and awnings were twisted (see picture I took of a twisted porch on Myrtle Street, in top left corner of this page), and all chimneys and plates of glass were down. "It was hot yesterday, very hot, and the heat combined with sirens and helicopters was eerie for sure. We went to Nature's Bounty and were the last ones let in. Then they roped off that part of the Mall too. The sidewalks downtown were buckling and rubble has been in the streets all over. No school. Downtown is a mess. Bricks down. The arch fell on the St. George Hotel." - Kirsten Anderberg, Diary entry about October 18, 1989 (written October 19, 1989)

Once in town the day after the quake, we saw an eerie sight. The Mall had been in full swing for Halloween. (Photo of Lily Wong's store on Mall after quake) (Photo: City on a Hill, October 23, 1989) The store windows had been displaying things like bloody limbs, and other gruesome props. But after the quake, store windows were shattered, with these gory props hanging out of them, amidst the ruins of the Mall, which included trees split by showers of bricks from buildings (Photo: City on a Hill, Oct. 23, 1989), and collapsed department stores, leaning brick walls, broken windows, etc. Water ran down sidewalks and there was chaos between city officials, police and store owners who wanted reentry to recoup their cash tills, etc. When we first hit the Mall, there were no barricades, except at the north end of the Mall, where collapsed brick buildings were being dug out, to find a deceased employee inside. But by the end of the first day, officials shut the Mall down with barricades and police reinforcement at the perimeters. Chainlink fences began to show up around the collapsed Mall buildings. Two people died on the Mall during the quake when buildings collapsed on them.

On Oct. 18, the day after the quake, we walked by a bakery which had a leaning wall askew , and their building had obviously jumped its foundation. They were selling the last batch of bread they had baked before the quake hit and shut down their building. My friend and I both bought a loaf, not sure what the food situation in town was at this point. We walked downtown and saw colonial houses sitting at a diagonal, having sunk in the sandy soil during the shaking. Liquidation of the soil was a major problem and up until the quake, I had not noticed that 1) downtown Santa Cruz is at sea level with the ocean in the Boardwalk area, 2) downtown Santa Cruz is built on the San Lorenzo River bed. After seeing the immense damage to downtown buildings, I began to notice the river bed that cuts through the middle of downtown Santa Cruz, the river bed that leads the water from the mountains above to the sea, once engineers began to inspect the waterways from the Boardwalk area to downtown. I began to realize that they were worried that the levies would breach in an aftershock or that they had been compromised from the big quake, and it became clear that the waterway naturally goes between the ocean and the hills above Santa Cruz. It is clear that the river in downtown Santa Cruz has and does flood its banks at times, and those flood plains are downtown Santa Cruz. Which means the floor of downtown is at sea level and it is mostly sandy, which liquifies when shaken that close to the ocean. The buildings downtown were all cockeyed in a way the houses on solid rock were not.

Chunks of earth were falling from the Seabright Cliffs above the beach in eastern Santa Cruz. Officials put cones on the beach, and fences and tape above, to keep people away from the cliff edges below and to keep people away from the cliff edge which was cracking further inland. My son in front of the edge of the cliff above Seabright Beach. If you look closely, you can see that on the other side of this new fence, there are cracks spreading on the ground between the sidewalk and the cliff. (Photos: K. Anderberg 1989)

Two days after the quake, we walked to the cliff edges about 10 blocks from where we lived. When we got there, there were huge cracks in the ground, running parallel to the ocean below, running parallel to the cliff's edge. After a day or two, cones were put on the beach below to keep people away from the areas under the crumbling cliffs. Large chunks of the cliffs had fallen off in aftershocks after the large quake, onto the beach below. They looked like boulders on the beach. A large ship had been thrown onto the beach in front of the Boardwalk, it looked like a Disneyland scene. By Oct. 26, 1989, warnings were issued that all ocean cliffs from Moss Landing to San Francisco were unsafe.

"Earthquake hit Tuesday 5:04 pm. It's been eerie and weird ever since. Helicopters' chopping is chilling at present and there is a strange silence in the air. We have electricity as of 3 hours ago, and have running water, although it is not drinkable." Kirsten Anderberg, Diary entry dated Thursday, October 19, 1989

On Oct. 19, 1989, we went back home and settled into our apartment. It was eerie and creepy the first few nights after the quake. During the day, it was interesting to watch things quiver in the aftershocks. But at night, it got to be threatening. There was a strange silence for days after the quake, broken often only by helicopters and military aircraft. Once home, firemen knocked on our door, telling us that we needed to evacuate for a few hours because the hissing under the streets in our neighborhood was natural gas leaks, and there was an explosion danger. They turned off my pilot light. (Many people had gas leaks and fires after this quake as evidenced by the 911 calls recorded ( http://www.sfmuseum.net/1989/sc911.html).) They also said there was a sewer leak issue they needed to address.

The Roasting Company building collapsed and the back area behind the Santa Cruz Bookstore was being held up by boards! (Photo: K. Anderberg 1989)
"No one is allowed on the Mall at all. They are currently digging out the Roasting Company to try and find a woman who might still be inside. The windows are out, metal structures are twisted, brick walls tumbled down." Kirsten Anderberg's Diary, dated October 19, 1989

"I've barely slept for 2 days and nights - ready to jump and run with Gibralter on split second notice. Last night at 3 am, we had a 6.1 aftershock. The night before around 3 am we had a 5.5 aftershock. We are having jolting, kick-like tremors on a pretty regular basis. They seem more concentrated at night. I feel a need to run. One o'clock this afternoon they dug out the body of the woman in question as to still being stuck in the Coffee Roasting Company. She was dead but they stopped the search last night and it seemed if they'd kept digging that she might have lived. It is amazing more did not die. Now in the aftermath, every noise or movement causes silence and immediate reaction..." - Kirsten Anderberg's Diary, dated October 19, 1989

Some semblance of normalcy returned. I waited for the natural gas company employees to light our pilot light again. We listened to the Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS), you know, that thing where they always say, "this is a test...this is only a test..." But this time, it wasn't a test. All radio stations were broadcasting the same thing as the EBS. The radio helped when there was still no electricity and the nights were filled with aftershocks, as I sat alone by candlelight as my 5 year old slept. Just hearing people talk was somehow comforting in the dark on those nights. The EBS gave updates on the situation at the Nimitz freeway in Oakland, and broadcast strange things such as tree doctors offering free repacking of large palm trees that swayed so widely in the quake that there were now large holes at the bases of the trees, making them unstable due to their heights in the wind. And there were intense winds after the quake, too.

"I was doing well until Sat. (Oct 21) night's storms set in. The storm shook the house and I feared the (soil's saturation from rain and) shaking via strong winds was weakening the bluff I live upon. Landslides have already begun 3 blocks or less from my house." - Kirsten Anderberg's diary, dated Oct. 26, 1989

I have heard that some Greek philosophers thought that earthquakes were caused when large amounts of wind, that were trapped in underground caves, etc. came out. And I can see how they made that association, since all of the quakes I have been in, seem to be followed by intense wind and rain storms. After the Loma Prieta quake, it rained so hard afterwards that the emergency shelter which was set up downtown at the Civic Auditorium, had to be shut down as it was leaking so badly through the damaged roof. There were also class issues, where Santa Cruz and FEMA officials actually put out public statements saying that the policy at the downtown Santa Cruz emergency shelter was *you had to show proof of residency to get a bed there.* This meant that the large homeless population prior to the quake was not welcome at the emergency shelter, and many middle class homeowners in the downtown shelter complained of the "bums." Thus by the time they closed the emergency shelter, it was amuck in controversy. By November 15, 1989, FEMA was holding news conferences to deny charges of discrimination against low-income people affected by the earthquake.

The area kept on quaking constantly with aftershocks. Every day and night we dealt with them. The aftershock zone for the quake was about 31 miles long, and included 79 events of magnitude 3.0 and greater in the first 10 days. One time we were on a bus coming back home from downtown, and everything began shaking outside, and in the bus, we could not feel it due to the shock absorbers on the bus, but we could see the things going on outside and once off the bus were told it was another aftershock over 3.0. Another time we were downtown on the Mall a few days after the quake, and I began to see a window in a store *ripple.*

After a few days, boards began to replace the previous plate glass windows in stores in downtown Santa Cruz (Photo: K. Anderberg 1989)
"Yesterday I went down to the Mall with Gibralter. As I walked literally under cracked awnings, and over buckled streets, I realized WHAT AM I DOING HERE? As we were in front of the thrift store on Front Street, right next to the collapsed roof in Runyan's Furniture, I saw the windows RIPPLE. Terrified cashiers bolted into the street and I knew then that the ripple was not a hallucination. It was approximately 3:02 pm (Oct. 25, 1989). I didn't feel it, really, but I SAW it. It turns out that aftershock was a 3.8." - Kirsten Anderberg's diary, dated Oct. 26, 1989

"As I sit here on what used to be a beautiful CA day on the coast, my insides still do not feel relaxed...I was just standing at the stove and it appeared to be shifting, moving slightly, several times. Distortion of senses is one of the scariest parts of this earthquake ordeal. Repeatedly I have had to open my door to verify our own position as I feel over and over that our entire house is slightly tilted or sliding or like the crazy house they have at Knott's Berry Farm where the gravity is cockeyed. Telling one's self that everything is okay when everything is NOT okay is hard. It isn't okay because I've seen how much I rely on police, firemen, hospitals, etc. And how vulnerable I am without those institutions. I've seen how important the geography of your home can be and worry about being a renter. I've seen how quickly chaos and panic can hit. I see how vulnerable life itself is and that is the single most confusing factor. I could die any second. What a way to live. No longer do I enter a large Safeway store and lolligag as I shop. Adrenaline pumps as I speedily and intently move down aisles for needs carefully eyeing all the bottles on the aisles and overhead structures and light fixtures. No longer do I talk with friends under cement overhangs. No longer do I walk mindlessly amidst buildings and glass display windows. Fear of falling brick and exploding glass bring intense consciousness to strolls on the Mall now. I watch the glass ready to jump back if need be much as a lifeguard propels backwards upon reaching the victim, just in case. I realize it is too heavy to mandate reevaluation of construction sites as money matters and it would crush CA's economy so, just as nuclear disasters *may* not happen, it is so with CA on this fault. The plate is moving, coast lines and mountains/hills are also moving. Flood plains and landfill are built upon and we walk upon them doing our daily downtown shopping. Now there are loads of buildings with large visible cracks doing business again. How much can weakened buildings stand? I doubt another 6.0. I doubt the post office downtown would make it through a 6.0 again, yet people are in it even though parts are roped off. I walked under buildings precariously perched on Wednesday (Oct. 18) and by Friday (Oct. 19) they were roped off. Nature's Bounty sold to us after the quake, but was shut down by police shortly thereafter." - Kirsten Anderberg's diary, dated Oct. 26, 1989

"As I stand in the hall tonight at 7 pm (Oct. 26, 1989), I feel as though I am on a boat at sea, seriously! I feel dips and rolls, it is amazing how much it feels like being on a boat and I feel like I am getting my "sea legs." The last morning aftershock (at 7 am several days ago now), Gib and I ran out of the house and I stood on the porch, my legs chattered like teeth. They knocked and shook. My perception seems distorted at this point. Angles seem to play tricks on me now and I can't tell what is slanted or not. Everything seems slanted to me, *especially* my own 4 walls. The white halls and ceiling, combined with the white floor in the hall and bathroom really distort angles to me. As I walk the streets, and see all the cracks, big-splitting crevases, buckles and falls in asphault and curb, I can't figure it out. Have I been oblivious to extensive "slow creep?" Are all these sidewalk pullaways and contortions and road cracks from quakes and tremors? If not, what did cause them? I just walked into the bedroom and it felt like I was walking over rolls, waves, then just sat down to write this and felt shaking from the direction of the ocean. I even feel like I need to walk lightly as to not inspire more cracks on the cliff underneath my house! Last night it felt as though the earth was in constant tremor. Either the waves bounce off our cliff and resound back or we are vibrating from the 3500 shocks experienced since last Tuesday, or both. Roxanne said it was trembling, the Santa Cruz Police said it is vibrating and will for 18 months more and Mark Foxx (a geologist friend) agreed." - Kirsten Anderberg's diary, dated Oct. 26, 1989

"Numerous smaller earthquakes called aftershocks occur after every moderate or large earthquake. In general, the largest of these events is about one magnitude unit smaller than the mainshock, although there are exceptions. For example, the Whittier Narrows earthquake of October 1, 1987 was magnitude 5.9, but a magnitude 5.5 aftershock occurred three days later. There are two other rules of thumb about aftershocks. First, as the events get smaller, they become more numerous. Within ten days after the Loma Prieta mainshock, there were two after-shocks of magnitude 5.0 and larger, 20 of magnitude 4.0 and larger, and 79 of magnitude 3.0 and larger as of October 27, 1989. The second rule of thumb is that as time goes by after the mainshock, the frequency of aftershocks tends to decrease proportional to one divided by time (1/ time). For example, if there are 100 aftershocks the first day, there will be about 50 the second day (1/2), 10 the tenth day (1/10), and so on. The number of aftershocks and their magnitudes after the Loma Prieta earthquake are roughly typical for earthquakes in California. Based on statistical studies of average California aftershock sequences, the USGS estimated that there was a 12 percent chance of an aftershock of magnitude 6 or greater in the two months following October 21, 1989." ( http://www.johnmartin.com/earthquakes/eqpapers/00000079.htm)

On October 21, 1989, the first local free paper hit our streets: City on A Hill, put out by UC Santa Cruz. This was the first look at local pictures of the event I remember seeing. Next was the Santa Cruz Sun, with an October 27, 1989 issue. I am sure I saved Santa Cruz Sentinel papers from the event as well, but I am not finding them right now in my archives. I will post the dates of the first mainstream paper to be printed when I find my copies of them.

(Click image for larger version) The Santa Cruz Public School System sent out the following letter dated October 23, 1989 (6 days after the quake), trying to get parents to bring their kids back to school. The elementary school my son attended, Gault Elementary, also sent out letters telling parents it was safe for kids to come back to school. Parents were also asked to update all of their emergency information at the office and letters explaining the disaster protocol were also distributed. I finally surrendered my son back to the public school system but it was very stressful for me to allow him to go there for the few hours a day he would attend. My son drew this picture of a "man in sunglasses in a tsunami" during his first week back in school after the quake, showing it was still on his mind at school. Tsunamis were a threat during this earthquake series, and a 4 foot tsunami wave was generated from the earthquake, due to a huge undersea landslide. The sea level at Santa Cruz dropped three feet as water rushed out of the harbor. The tsunami wave took 20 minutes to travel from Santa Cruz to Monterey ( http://www.sfmuseum.net/alm/quakes3.html#1989).

My son's previous after school childcare provider quit doing childcare after the quake. She said it was too much responsibility to be stuck with other people's kids in emergencies like that. Some parents were not able to reach her, in person or by phone, for days, and she had their kids. She said it really spooked her.

My college (Cabrillo College) was closed due to significant damage to school buildings. Life was centered on getting business back up on the Mall, but it was a long and arduous process. Due to the chaos of the situation, I returned to Seattle a few weeks after the big quake. Once back in Seattle, my son and I were sheepish in grocery stores, wanting to dash in and out in case of a quake. We had odd sensitivities that others who had not experienced the quake did not have. We definitely had some post-trauma reactions once out of the quake environment, and it took us years to get past those behaviors. Even to date, we cannot do things like live in apartments with underground parking, etc.

"They began to demolish the Cooper House and Spodick's Furniture store today. Strange. A place I was less than 2 weeks ago is now gone." - Kirsten Anderberg's diary dated Oct. 26, 1989

"I'm certainly in shock. The shock seems to be due to the first 2 hours after the quake. The first 30 minutes after the quake were the scariest and one of the scariest in my life too. The world around me became choas. No one knew what happened or what was next. Everyone was scared. Adrenaline was very high. Controlled panic was prevalent. That first few minutes were so out of control." - Kirsten Anderberg's diary, Oct. 26, 1989

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGERY FOLLOWS - DO NOT READ IF SQUEAMISH! (I include this diary entry to show you how severe this earthquake was) "The woman who lived in an Marina apt. in San Francisco that was leveled. The woman got out of the rubble but heard her two neighbors, an elderly couple, underneath. She could hear them and speak with them, but could not see them. Just before the house burst into flames, they said, "pray for us, pray for us"...creepy. Or the dad in San Francisco who jumped in the window of what he thought was his apt. on the first floor, but it turned out to be the second floor apartment and his floor was gone (and wife and child too). The child in the car, pinned behind his mother in the backseat and the front of the car with beam crushing it. They had to cut through the mother with a chain saw, the surgeon hanging in the night off an unstable fixture, then amputated the lower part of the child's leg to get him out. It took 4 hours to get the child out. Radical, heroic stuff. It's really scary when it is so close. Same eeriness as after the Los Angeles 1971 quake." - Kirsten Anderberg's diary, Oct. 26, 1989 (End of graphic warning area)

Some businesses and professions benefit from quakes such as construction firms, seismic consultants, building supply stores...Price of plywood jumped 10-15% in price after the Loma Prieta quake.


* Magnetic disturbances were reported prior to the Loma Prieta quake. In a report from Stanford University, there were increases in the low frequency magnetic fields about 2 weeks prior to the quake. Stanford reports signals had risen to 20 times the normal rates by October 3, and by 3 hours before the quake, the levels rose to 60 times the normal rates. It is not clear yet how electromagnetic fields relate to earthquakes, but there appears to be a correlation between the two of some sort.
( http://www-star.stanford.edu/~acfs/LomaPrietaPaper.pdf)

* "The section of the San Andreas fault that ruptured on October 17 probably also ruptured in 1865 and 1906. Since 1906, this section has been very quiet. Over the last one and one half years, however, two separate events of magnitude 5.1 and 5.2 occurred in the area on June 27, 1988 and August 8, 1989, respectively. Although these events were widely felt and caused minor damage, it should be kept in mind that earthquakes of this magnitude occur about 8 times per year in California. Standard practice for naming significant earthquakes is to name the event after the nearest prominent geographic feature. In this case Loma Prieta peak, the highest peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is several miles from the earthquake epicenter. ( http://www.johnmartin.com/earthquakes/eqpapers/00000079.htm)

* "One unusual feature of this earthquake was the lack of primary surface fault rupture. The impressive cracks shown in the media were superficial features caused by the strong shaking. The largest such crack was located near the intersection of Summit Road and Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County, and was 650 yards long, 2.5 feet wide, and showed 2.5 feet of left-lateral offset at one point. Numerous ground failures occurred over an area 60 miles long by 25 miles wide, stretching from San Gregorio to Hollister, with additional ground failure occurring in a narrow strip along the coast from Santa Cruz all the way up to San Francisco. Ground failure included landslides, debris slides, rockfalls, and bedrock slides. The largest landslide identified as of November 1989 measured 220 yards by 330 yards. Liquefaction phenomena were widespread, occurring from Oakland to Salinas, and produced numerous sand boils and mud volcanoes." ( http://www.johnmartin.com/earthquakes/eqpapers/00000079.htm)

* "Earthquakes of magnitude 7 or larger occur, on average, about once every 18 years in California...The events do not occur very regularly; for example, the period from 1895 to 1915 was very active in northern California, whereas the next 50 years were very quiet." ( http://www.johnmartin.com/earthquakes/eqpapers/00000079.htm)

* The focal depth of the Loma Prieta quake was 11 miles (18 km), which is unusually deep. (Typical California earthquake focal depths are 4 to 6 miles.)

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