The Northridge Earthquake

It is dark outside and in the back of my mind I am slowly realizing that tomorrow marks 15 years since the Northridge quake. If you are interested in some pictures and details you can read a post I wrote last year.

There is a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have survivied a forest fire and been through more than one major earthquake. I have seen more than a few catastrophes up close and the memories stick with me. But the truth is that there is something about that day so long ago that hasn't ever gone away.

I haven't quite figured it out. Every time that I think that I have I find that it still doesn't make sense. There is a sense of foreboding that hasn't really left me. I don't think about it often, but sometimes I have this feeling that in a moment all hell is going to break loose.

The feeling starts slowly. I feel like the earth is starting to move and then I look for a chandelier or similar object, expecting to see it sway. I listen for the rumble that turns into a roar and I try to decide where to go. In seconds I know whether I am going to hit the doorway, go beneath the table or try to exit the building.

Prior to the Northridge quake I had no fear of them. A quake was a big joke. But that night taught me to show more respect for Mother Earth. That night I realized that this was very different from a funhouse. In the funhouse the hydraulics shut off and all returns to as it was. A large quake is far different.

The quake made a real impact on sleep patterns. Many of my friends say that for months afterwards they slept with one eye open. Those that made a habit of sleeping naked no longer did, or made certain to have clothing in many places.

For a brief time I played rent-a-boyfriend and had a bunch of sleepovers at the apartments of some of my female friends. Truth is that I think we all felt better knowing that someone else was around.


Esser Agaroth said...


I remember this quake well.

My father postponed my brother's funeral {in San Diego}, so that relatives from the Valley and farther north could make it down.

Being from San Diego, I never experienced a major quake, even though I lived blocks from the Rose Canyon fault line.

I definitely felt earth quakes, but often we would just go about what we were doing after it past.

Nothing could have prepared me for the 1989 Watsonville {"Candlestick Park"/"World Series"} Quake. THAT was something. Plus, as an intern psychologist it was hands on crisis intervention experience, I have always valued.

One story I heard about the Northridge Quake was that people were putting merchandise back into stores early in the morning, instead of mostly looting it.

I also heard that people in the Valley sat on their lawns offering food to passersby.

Anonymous said...

I remember this vaguely. I was in second grade, and my family had just purchased earthquake emergency kits from my school. They were supposed to have arrived that Friday.

Looking back, most of the destruction is sort of a faded memory. A downed streetlight. Our neighbors chimney collapsed. And our brick wall out back was gone.

But what I do remember was my family during this. My mom ran into my room right after the first shake, and we were in my doorway when the first aftershock happened.

A bookcase almost landed on my grandmother after the first aftershock. My grandfather must have figured that was the biggest danger and was already going to brace it so grandma could get out of bed.

The door to my brothers room had swung closed, and one brother ran into it, the other stepped on Lincoln Logs.

My grandpa found his robe and first thing went outside to our neighbors houses, making sure everyone was alright. Then we spent the night sleeping in the hallway, the 7 of us. Sort of taking turns sleeping. We had three flashlights, and a little am/fm Walkman radio.

Since we didn't have power or water for 2 weeks, we washed our clothes in a trash can, using water from our neighbors pools, as we didn't have one. And when we had to get rid of the perishables, we ate at Arby's a lot. I haven't liked their roast beef since.

One of my brothers and I liked playing outside right after the earthquake. I remember we always just plopped down on the ground whenever there was an aftershock, and we just watched the cars bounce till it was over. At one point, someone's dogs had gotten out, and we played with them for a couple hours then they left. I hope they got home.

Because it's the anniversary, my mom and I were talking about it, and she related what she remembered about after the earthquake. When my school reopened, we still didn't have drinking water. And a local beer company- neither of us remember which one- donated cans of water. So all the grade school kids were drinking from beer cans. She wished she could have found the camera in time to get some pictures of that.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to share these stories with you. It's probably because this event isn't something I've thought a lot about since I left the Northridge area a few years back. But this does bring back a lot of memories now.

Jack Steiner said...

I remember that Watsonville quake. I had been invited to go to stay with a friend in Santa Cruz and then at the last minute didn't go.

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