Remembering the Earthquake that Shook California

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October 17, 2018 marks 29 years since the earth shook the Bay Area with a vengeance. They called it the Loma Prieta Earthquake. I remember looking up at the ceiling fans and seeing them sway and we lived a hundred miles away in the Sacramento Valley.

The scenes on the television were too much to comprehend. Hollywood could not have dreamed up this devastation. People trapped on double-decker overpasses and bridges with gaping safety rails that looked like wavy ribbons that had been cut in odd places. Sixty-seven people died and it caused $5 billion in damages. The third game of the World Series at Candlestick Park was just minutes from beginning. This quake was felt all the way into Nevada and down to San Diego.

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing 29 years ago during this quake?

At that time, my cousin Jerry David lived with me and my family. He had to make many trips every week into the city and of course I feared the worse. I was so relieved when he walked through my door and so grateful that he had left the Bay Area before the quake hit.

My Aunt Sally, my mama’s twin sister and Jerry David’s mama was out from Oklahoma for a visit. She had moved away from California 20 years earlier. She said she’d never be back. She was afraid of the earthquakes. But because her son was here, she went back on her word and came for a visit. I used to tease her that she was the cause of that earthquake! She immediately packed her bags and went back to the land of tornadoes, never to step foot again in California.

Coping with Catastrophe

I wonder about the families that were devastated by the death of those 67 people? I also wonder how many Bay Area residents also packed their bags and left the area. And how many seniors were killed or left homeless from this shaking disaster?

The American people have faced many horrible events since then — 9/11, the Oklahoma City Bombings, Columbine, mass shootings and devastating wildfires. Perhaps the only good thing that comes out of these catastrophes are acts of kindness. We think more about the troubles of our fellow humans and we realize that life is precious — to be lived in thankfulness for what we have. It reminds us to be a little kinder, for if we should face such a tragedy we will need the help of our friends and neighbors.

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