reply to post by randyvs
Your thread popped back up in MYATS, and as I recall, I said I'd share one of my earthquake stories.
17 Oct 1989. I left work at South San Francisco, CA, and I would have normally gone across the Bay Bridge to our house in Alameda. This time, I
was going to check out a Datsun 240Z that was for sale. My Bride was doing SCCA racing at the time, and we wanted one car to work on and another to
drive. I went across the San Mateo Bridge instead, looked at the car, and drove home. I was in an Alpha-Beta supermarket when the Loma Prieta
quake hit. I was going to pick up some food and munchables and go home and watch the World Series on TV, which was playing in S.F.
We were all used to temblors and everyone in the store stopped when the first trembling p-wave hit. Then the second s-wave hit and I remember this
loud SH-SH-SH-SH sound and some people were thrown to the floor. The fiberglass ceiling tiles started falling down and somebody screamed "The roof
is caving in!!" and everyone thundered out of the building. I stayed inside and moved a few feet so that I was between the swaying ceiling lights.
We were told later that the quake lasted 15 seconds. It seemed a hell of a lot longer than that to me. Do you know that once the earthquake was
over that several 'suits' ran back into the store and stole liquor? I was shocked. The 'quake was a 7.0 magnitude, and its epicenter was 50+
miles south of S.F. near Santa Cruz.
The parking lot was a mess, with cars pushed together. I had a habit of parking far away from the store or stadium or whatever I was going to.
My semi-hopped-up Honda Prelude was all by itself, but the road was blocked by cars, so I drove it over a grass hill, and across a field, railroad
tracks and onto the back roads. I wanted to drive to my wife's work on Bay Farm Island, but our earthquake plan was for whomever was home to stay
there and wait for the other, unless otherwise advised. I got my transceiver from the trunk of the car and turned it on. At the time, in addition
to my regular job, I was also part of a SAR team. My Bride also had a trunked transceiver chipped to the same frequency, but she was not allowed to
talk on it, unless it was a vital emergency. I hoped to hear from her. I got home and our house was fine, except for a few fallen pictures,
knocked over bottles, etc.
I picked up the phone and called my wife. Amazingly enough, I got her, and she said, "I'm fine. Everybody here is okay. I'm on my way
ho...." and the line went dead. So I sat and waited and she made it home finally, an hour and a half later -- what would normally be a 10-minute
zip home in her car.
I was called about four hours later to join the canine SAR crew at the Cypress Freeway interchange. Normally, I would've been under the Cypress at
the time the freeway double-decker collapsed. We spent the better part of the next four days under and around the Cypress, working in shifts and
pulling people out of there. It was a complete horror -- most cars had been crushed down to little more than two feet tall. Horns were blaring,
it was dusty and smoky and the thick acrid stench of fuel and God knows what else. Nearly a mile and a half of freeway had collapsed onto the lower
deck (lower was toward Oakland). 42 people lost their lives in that damn Cypress interchange; there were many, many injured. I don't know how
many were pulled free........ I would guess at least twice than number. I know that at least four of the survivors or their families looked up
and went around to personally thank each and every SAR person -- as well as the dogs, who were the real heroes. No, I take that back. The dogs
WERE heroes, but the real shining stars (for me) were the locals and some factory workers who put their own lives at risk to climb into the hellish
hole of the Cypress to rescue people even before the Fire Department, Public Works and other gov. groups even got there. Everyone pulled together,
and locals also set up support services out of their own pockets with food, water, coffee, blankets, etc. Red Cross set up a logistics &
support/tracking center, also with food and supplies. Contra Costa (or was it Oakland?) Public works along with the factory folk provided a lot of
heavy equipment and personnel as well. Command and control was with OFD. Everyone shined. The last survivor was pulled from the Cypress on 21
I was on contract to the U.S. government at the time, and didn't go back to work for nearly a month. That event was more visceral and more
harrowing for me than going to war. Selah.