Monday, October 05, 2009

Loma Prieta+20

It's been a long while since I've been in a big earthquake.  I barely recall the 1971 Sylmar quake {magnitude 6.6} and next largest quake I was in was the 1987 Whitter Narrows quake {5.9}.  I've managed to miss the Loma Prieta {1989, 6.9} and the Northridge {1994, 6.7} quakes.

This week, the local news of a San Francisco station is airing retrospective segments on the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that had a epicenter near Santa Cruz.  I was in the LA area when the quake struck, although I was in San Francisco in August and Santa Cruz in September.  I dozed off, but I ordinarily would have been watching the World Series.  I must admit that I was sort of spent after the NLCS, which pitted the Cubs, hailing from where my parents grew up in northside Chicago, and the San Francisco Giants, the NL team of my favourite city at the time.  The Giants won the NLCS, 4-1.

I found out about the quake about 8PM.  I don't seem to recall 24/7 coverage in LA or on CNN, but the footage of the crumpled 50' section of the cantilevered portion of Bay Bridge {above} and the "pancaked" Nimitz Freeway {880} were being shown.

I was awestruck as I saw the destruction.  I followed the story in the ensuing weeks.  I remember the rains came soon after the quake making matters worse.

Some aspects of the city would change forever.  The quake sealed the demise of the Embarcadero Freeway I've blogged about in the summer.  I also recall how it seemed to take a long time for many of the roads and freeways to reopen, but I have no ideas of the complexities of these projects on the engineering side, let alone the political aspects.

Here's KGO coverage from 5:30 PM on 10 October 1989, where the story of the quake was evolving in real-time::

The station was knocked off the air when the quake hit at 5:04 PM and is operating on backup generators.  BART was shut down and the Bay Bridge was closed.  Here's video that surveys the damage of the Bay Bridge, Nimitz Freeway collapse, and fires in the Marina District::

The quake would kill 63.  Forty-two died on the Nimitz Freeway, 41 were instantly crushed when the quake hit.  The freeway would reopen in 1997 with a new route that no longer cuts through the neighbourhood of West Oakland.

Almost exactly two years later, a firestorm would hit the Oakland/Berkeley Hills, the topic of a future blog.  I find that the '89 quake and the '91 fire are often touchstone moments for Bay area residents.
Twitterversion::  #SanFrancisco TV stations are gearing up for #LomaPrieta retrospectives. Web2.0 wayback machine shows coverage from 1989.  @Prof_K

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