Loma Prieta Earthquake 24 Years Later: Where were you? Are you better prepared today?

South San Francisco, CA October 27, 2013

Collapsed upper deck section of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge

Collapsed upper deck section of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge

On October 17, 1989 just as the World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s was set to start, the earth moved dramatically beneath us all. It was a surreal time as some locals felt the strong shake and continued on with what they were doing. Others watched in horror as images of the cars crossing the Bay Bridge came to a halt as the spam fell away in front of them and a lone car continued on. A 23 year old woman, Anamafi MaalaReal, died.  Real time news coverage of the Cypress Freeway in Oakland collapse and the trapped commuters were horrific before our eyes. We lost 42 people in that one area alone. A total of 63 people lost their lives due to the Earthquake of ’89 and over 3,750 people sustained injuries.


While to many it feels like just yesterday, we often forget the details of the magnitude of this quake.  This 7.1 earthquake reinforced the urgency to retrofit many of our buildings, bridges, overpasses and other public work structures such as dams.  Many agencies continue to urge folks to be prepared, not just for 72 hours, but for a week or longer. Basic emergency tips include keeping a full tank of gas, having cash on hand, setting up a backpack with important documents, contact numbers, medicines, heavy duty plastic bags, duct tape, indelible ink pens, comfortable shoes, change of clothes and some high protein food and water and an extra set of keys.   Be sure to keep this in an easy to access location. In addition keep slippers next to your bed in the event a quake hits during night time hours – don’t become an immediate victim by jumping out of bed and onto broken glass.


SMC Health System Emergency Giveaway 10.2013

The San Mateo County Health System Agency  has launch the Emergency Preparedness Giveaway.

They ask, “Are you prepared for a natural disaster or health related emergency?”

One person each week will win an Eton FRX2 emergency radio with a smartphone charger and the grand prize winner will win an American Red Cross Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit. Enter now HERE


South San Francisco also offers the Federal FEMA CERT course in Emergency Preparedness . From the  FEMA website; The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

Locals can sign up for this course offered through our Parks and Recreation  Leisure Guide and can be viewed online HERE.   A description of this local course:
Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) This training covers first/aid, CPR, use of fire extinguisher, shut-off gas, electric and water utilities following a disaster as well topics that will ensure that you can do the greatest good for the greatest number of victims, while protecting your self from becoming a victim. Graduates are encouraged to become members of the Fire Department’s CERT program. Call the CERT Hotline for upcoming class dates (650) 829-4336. Pre-registration required – Fire Administration, 480 North Canal and bring proof of residency. Resident fee: $20.00 (covers the cost of class materials). Non-resident fee: $80.00.


So where were you 24 years ago? Over 130 neighbors respond:

Photo KGO

Photo KGO

Kathy Rogers Driving by candlestick. Nobody on the road!

Arnold Bedak Army St. on-ramp to 101 south in bumper to bumper traffic. I could hear the ground “breathing!”

Debbie Hensic Loudon Living in Burlingame raising my 4 kids
Matter of fact my second to the oldest my only daughter is 32 today
24 years ago I was 33 years old

Winnie Augustyn Girard Inside QFI, which is now Pacific Market, grocery shopping.

Kimmy Hightower isnt it funny. why is it human nature to Need to tell someone. its like there is a way of never letting yourself forget? or relating to anothers story by telling them your experience? i like to hear and tell, its kinda theraputic, just like with 9-11 ya know?

Angelique Presidente Dancing at Schumachers

Maria Maldonado Barba Just getting off work in downtown SF. Very eerie feeling that day.

Deborah Mcgrath hmm in sacramento watching horrific tv coverage of the bay area being awash in fires and falling bridges…trying desperately to reach my mom and my four kids who were at different friends houses, all in so city, while i was at training…

Debbie Hensic Loudon We were celebrating her birthday at home
The baseball game was on, on the deck, kids were playing in the front yard and we began to shake , rattle and roll

Angelique Bytof Living on Carter Drive in South City and going to Mater Dolorosa in South City! Oh how I miss my home!

Janina Bright Pulido West Orange library! I was working there at the time.

Darcie Cristina Kaiser in SSF in the waiting room watching cartoons

Jessica Dominguez Inside my mom and then 6 days later I was freed. The earthquake couldn’t keep me in there!

David Richoux Just leaving the parking lot where I worked in Palo Alto, stopped to turn in to the street and then my car started jumping around! Eventually got home to find not much damage…

Chris Willis Setting up a tv on two 5 gallon buckets to watch game outside with my buddies up in Weztborough

Richard Gatmaitan At Stonestown Shopping Center in the parking lot by Petrini’s (?) used to be parked next to the movie theater marquee. I thought the marquee was going to crash down on the car while the parking lot resembled 3-4 foot ripples like the ocean. People streamed out of the supermarket and had a portable tv for the World Series. Saw the Cypress Freeway Collapse, them the Bay Bridge collapse and then the Marina on fire. Just like it was yesterday… I live up in Sebastopol now but it’s something you can’t and won’t forget.

Jorge Alegre Didn’t exist or wasn’t even thought of. I was born 1992c

Photo: USGS

Photo: USGS

Tony Alejandre I was on the practice football field at SSFHS, getting ready for the Bell Game that week. We heard screaming coming from the gym cause the girls volleyball team was playing. We felt it on the field. Either way we survived, went on to win the Bell Game against that other school and continued the undefeated season that year. 11-0!!

Renee Mohr Living on California getting dinner ready for all the kids. Then it was a quiet night we all slept in the front room together. Candles burning and a battery operated radio.

Raquel Blea I was at work at South City Car Wash waiting to get off to go watch the World Series…

Julie O’keefe San Francisco

Susan Sharp living on C Street behind the boys club cooking dinner getting ready for the baseball game

Dino Fontana I was sitting on my couch eating an El Faro burrito watching the series.. and shaking back and forth.. ALOT

Kimmy Hightower what..you eating?? did you take a pic of your food? lol

Dino Fontana I would have.. but I was out of film.. lol

Kimmy Hightower ha! aint that the truth

Williamson Amy I was leaving CCD at Mater Dolorosa, watching the big cross sway back and forth. YIKES

Gloria Cavazos Driving home from work at peninsula hospital it felt like all my tires popped at the same time… I lived on Maple my kids where outside playing and were protected by friends who lived with me.. Crazy day.

Dan Anchick Watching tv after school 7th grade. House shakes and tv turns off. Ducked and covered like a BOSS!

Andrea Peralta Tanforan Mall

Daysi Marroquin I was going home with my 1yr old son by sf university thinking my ex was driving crazy but it was the earthquake it was scary

Michele Wilson Sitting on the couch watching the World Series, and doing my homework, lived at crown colony off of Hickey blvd at that time, then the excitement/tragedy happened.

Luis Pena Watchin duck tales after school cartoons,house started shaking went outside to find my dad n sis staring at the house sway back n forth,thanks for leaving me inside Sandra Pena lol

Mark Thaler OMG I was working at Applebee’s and living in Antioch, CA after a bad breakup. Did have some fun times with the Applebee’s crew outside of work.

Jesse Mohr Just got off work in South City, writing for the bus to get me home to watch the World Series…saw El Camino Real rolling up and down for what seemed like forever…didn’t realize how bad it wasuntil I got home and heard all the reports on the radio…slept with the family in the living room…just seemed safer and more comforting

Stefanie Houghton My mommah was preggers with me. Im 23 almost 24. She was in a boat when the earthquake happened and the water acted funny

Joseph Delphino In the city, a block of off silver ave…

Carol A. Dowling In Rhode Island – waiting to watch the World Series- I moved here 2 years later

Karen Davenport I was living in Petaluma at the time, and was working retail. I had just finished my shift when it happened. Ceiling tiles were falling, and lots of stuff fell over. It shook hard, even up all the way up there.

Mark McLaughlin I was on the 26h bus stopped in front if South City Lumber!!! We all thought it was the bus!!! But the noticed it wasn’t moving!!!

Bill Stephens 8th grade under my kitchen table. Home alone while my parents ran errands. I started at one end of my kitchen and ended up on the other side when it was over.

Melissa Eckard Walking from Schumacher’s to the candy store. Remember it soo well.

Melissa Eckard to  Debbie Hensic Loudon I remember Ben telling me about cars bouncing down the street.

Debbie Hensic Loudon to Melissa Eckard not quite down the street but bouncing yes

Melissa Eckard Well we WERE kids, lol. Kids be exaggerating, lol

Natalie Carrillo Hawaii

1.25 miles of the Cypress Street Viaduct of Interstate 880 in West Oakland collapsed

1.25 miles of the Cypress Street Viaduct of Interstate 880 in West Oakland collapsed

Julie Mcgrayne Zanartu Working at Boise Cascade in Menlo Park. I never got down stairs and out of a building so fast!

Bonnie Tognetti At our home in Vienna, Virginia. We are SSF kids– my husband was born at the old Grand Hospital–and we came home from work. He went upstairs to change, I went in to turn on the game. We spent a lot of time after that on the telephone as we could call relatives, but they couldn’t call one another so we served as a relay.

Gina Rudy Morales Tanforan mall – I ran out like OJ Simpson in the Hertz commercials!

Mabel Alba LOL! Only you!!

Jennifer Redwine Sitting in my house on Miller..watching a wall ripple and a huge big screen tv walk itself out to the middle of the room..whew

Sailesh Mehra On Pecks Lane in SSF!

Debbie Hensic Loudon to Melissa Eckard I get it. HAHa.  He also told me he thought he was dizzy at first.
But in the end between everyone watching the World Series and the earth quake Roselle’s 8th birthday was truly eventful. Needless to say Roselle has been rocking this earth since.  Lets get together for you girls bday

Maryann Melendez-Ramos are we talking about the 1989 earthquake?

Richard Soriano Cocadiz Shout out to my All Souls Wildcats!!! 5th grade… I was on the blacktop ballin’ up the upper grade cats.

Richard Soriano Cocadiz Earthquake wise: got picked up in front of All Souls n got busted for jumping on the car… Low and behold it was the quake. (So I didn’t get busted, Ha!)

Charles Esqueda we were home having dinner.my son went under the table. .

Melissa Eckard Debbie Hensic Loudon, yes please. Any day next week maybe? Or Sun.

Patricia Baker I was still living with my parents and happened to be home from work early that day due to an offsite meeting. At 5:04 p.m. I was in the bathroom taking care of business before the Giants World Series came on. At first I thought I would just “ride out” the earthquake while sitting on the toilet, but at some point I thought better of it and stood up in the door frame.

Glen Wandersee On Miller ave.,ran outside frantic,sidewalks started splitting,television went black,will never forget that moment.

Kody Staubitz I was in my momma’s tummy. LMAO

Ellen Minucciani Moscone Convention Center


Gloria Nuanes Merino I was still at work at Shen Infiniti in San Mateo.

Pam Monozon Riechel Watching opening ceremony as so many were on TV. In front on big picture window, watching street rippling. Knew it was big but didnt realize how bad til neighbor said bridge collapsed couldn’t believe it

Jeff Holdorf Here in Phoenix but contacted a friends wife in Martinez and giving her updates from the news since they had no power.

Jeannette Yesitsnineletters working at Matthew’s Top of the Hill Daly City for Steven Matthew David

Angela Pinti At home with both my boys……under the table for what seemed forever and the floor kept vibrating for a long time after the shaking had subsidized

Anita Porpoise Had just came from Santa Rosa, over the GG Bridge. Was on San Pedro Road in Daly City…..thought I had four flat tires. I pulled over behind a pickup truck full of grocery shopping carts. Stopped the car, realized the car was still moving. But the motorist behind me, kept driving to the signaled intersection. He stopped right in the left lane and got out of his car and looked at it like it was possessed.  A friend who had just moved here was at the nudist beach north of Montara. It was his first earthquake so he headed up the stairs to his car. He saw hundreds of lizards coming out of the hill.

Janel M Chrestenson Pearson Driving out of my office parking lot and watching the the tall buildings and the Courthouse buildings sway and bend like they weren’t make of concrete! The roads were waving like a horror movie an the car was bouncing all over!

Linda Meschi Bintz I was living in Cali just about ready to move to the south

Carole Brady-Duport In a grocery store watching (and hearing) everything fall off the shelves!

Kelly Haynes On Escanyo Drive… The street was swaying and little girls delivering newspapers ran up to me screaming.

Melissa Marsh-Canites I was at home with my parents getting ready to watch the giants/a’s game. I was in fifth grade.

Susan Bell In my Burlingame apartment, playing hooky from new downtown SF job. Never went back.

Bruce Tognetti In SSF Emergency Comm Ctr on phone & dispatch overload. Most memorable but NOT fun!

Barbara Leroux On my way home from Fernando Rivera. Thought I had two flat tires as I drone up Lakeshire. Then the radio went off. Oh,oh …earthquake.

Sandra Bortoli-Copado Living in Daly City, Ca. Attending Jefferson High School.

Lynn Wright Candlestick, center field bleachers, watching my dream World Series Oakland A’s vs. the SF Giants.

Deborah Allgeier Laguna Beach CAsports illustrated earthquake the day the world series stopped

Carla Barbetti Running up swaying stair case

Monica Burke SFO

Deseio Gutierrez Not born.

Sue Eschelbach Living on Parkway

Renee Gomes At work in Daly City.

Nikkhil M Vasuki Muscat, Oman, at elementary!

Joanne Evars getting ready to watch the game

Mabel Alba Candlestick Park at the World Series

Tim Hopkins Candelstick Park

Chris Coghlan Candlestick

Kelley Omran Not yet alive

John W. Matney Walnut Creek

John W. Matney Addition-on the Bart train between 19th st and MacArthur

Zulay Ramirez Working the World Series trying to calm people down!

Colleen Wallace Sponseller Swaying to-and-fro on Cal Train past Candlestick Park!

Demetrius Gray Westborough!!! Getting ready to watch the A’s vs. GIANT’s game in Oakland. Funny thing was family was out from K.C. @the game and caught a flight back that same night after the experience, & my nerves haven’t been right since! SMH.

Ronald Wong I was @ 431 E.Grand Ave. South SF, closing the dock doors, while waiting for the UPS truck to pick-up the next day air shipments, plus getting ready to see the Giants vs A’s in Burlingame, which never happened, was shocked when the power went back on and saw the news saying the Bay Bridge collased. WOW! already 24yrs passed!

Isabel Monster Cervantes drinking at the bar about to get in a fight.. jk i was not even a thought in my parents eyes

JIll Hernandez I was at coyote animal shelter on San Mateo. Before ithit the animals were all howling and barking

Pat Godinez I lived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Vanessa Pacheco In the Studio Theater at SJSU in my musical theater class rehearsing a song. I grabbed onto the grand piano I was standing by not realizing it was on wheels. When it started rolling, I crawled to the doorway. One guy in my class was from the East Coast, and had never been in an earthquake. He kept screaming, “We’re going to die!”

Penne Tognetti I was in Portugal and didn’t feel a thing!

Dolores Rodriguez On my home from Halloween shopping with a friend. In front of Holy Angels in Daly City ,never drove so fast though Guadalupe pass .

Patti Rodriguez With my etc husband at our apt in Brisbane. We had just returned from seeing SEA OF LOVE at the movies. He was napping on the couch and I was getting ready to watch The Battle of the Bay then suddenly everything started shaking…!!!

Patti Rodriguez I had wanted to go swimming in Oakland that day because it was so hot. My ex husband said no…..if we had, we would have been on the Bay Bridge or certainly on the freeway right about the time it struck….

Jody Dandridge Working for Digital Equipment Corporation in Down Town Palo Alto on the 2nd floor of our 4 story building watching our cement garage structure flex like a rubber band, while cars bounced and moved freely.

Genevieve Trombley Watching Duck Tales and doing homework at my friend’s house in Daly City. It was just the 2 of us there, we were in 4th grade. I went into the kitchen doorway and she was running all over the house trying to catch falling items, freaking out that her brothers were going to be mad.

Doni Ghilotti I was in Sonoma and felt it!!

Rhod Wallace 3rd grade speech class , thinking I should have cut it…

Teri Mazzoncini Dream on.

Evelyn Zaldana-Martinez I was 11 and playing in my parent’s backyard with my sister when the earthquake hit. Let’s just say that was the last time we played soccer. Lol

Smith Jack I was living in Palm Springs, CA waiting for the game to start. Just glad I wasn’t living in SSF. Of course, we had our own tremblers there in the desert.

Randy Quok I was seven or eight years old at day care.

Will KnoCk Out Marcelo Idk sumwhere swimmin in my daddyz nut sack lol hahahaa i just had to

Johnny Marcelo to Will KnoCk Out Marcelo if I’m 25 ur 21 u weren’t event thought of I was 1 chillin on breast!!                           U wasn’t even close to dad’s balls… Plus ur an accident sorry buddy mom told me

Will KnoCk Out to  Marcelo Johnny Marcelo bahahhaaha sometimes u could be dick big sister!

Cristina Sandoval Kaiser in SSF, my 4 yr. old had a sore throat, best place to be under the circumstances.

Jennifer Nerney wearing a witch costume, working at Montgomery Wards in Serramonte in the Halloween Dept in the middle of a sale with cash register opened. When it started they screamed and ran out, I shut the register and sat down, lights went out, ceiling panels falling, gas leak rumored. I was 17.

Carole Stewart I was at the movies in Placerville, with my best friend and taking my baby girl (2 mos old) for the first time. We felt it!loma prieta epicenter santa cruz live journal

Pete Rios I was playing in the side area of the house with a friend of mine.

Janelle Minucciani Dodkin Trying to watch the World Series on tv in San Diego. Wondering why they weren’t playing the game because of an earthquake. They happen all the time, right? Then they starting showing photos of the damage and I freaked out. Tried calling everyone I knew all night long. Finally got through to my parents about 11 pm. They were fine. I knew more about what had happened then they did since the power was out they had not tv or radio.

Gupendra Singh Livin at 664 Commercial Ave playing in back yard 662 commercial, ground felt like a waves under me

Angela Victoria Katoa Playing with my dog in the backyard… on Baden Ave. My dog started acting crazy before the earthquake hit… guess they have extraordinary senses

Leanne Gerardo Goff Moved from the City’s Mission District to good ole Buri Buri!!!

Jean Aro I was in downtown San Francisco totally freaking out cause my then 9 year old daughter was getting out of school in Daly City. I could not get through by phone, and was totally frantic! ( all phone lines down and bus/Bart service not running.

John Fierro working a banquet at the Holiday Inn on south airport blvd…waiting for the wedding party to arrive! felt bad for the bride n groom!


Keith Shawn Living in Sacramento, was driving dowwn a residential side street and saw a parked car bouncing like some kid had jumped on the rear bumper. I didnt feel the quake and didnt realize what it was until I stopped at a 7-11 for a slurpee and they had a TV on showing the Collapsed section of the Bay Bridge.BTW I just drove over the new Easten Span of the Bay Bridge for the first time yesterday

Keith Kirby Klein Working for Calif. tire as the branch mgr. in Sacto.

Ronald Fuentes Houston Texas

JoAnn Willis Home watching all my bookcases topple and seeing my garage door breaking.

Kate Mac Kay Marnheim, West Germany, got a phone call from my aunt in New Jersey telling me that there had been a large quake and listing all the relatives that had checked in and those that had not. We went to the Einselthum housing area and set up calls to New Jersey, asking for people who checked in with her, to check on Bay Area relatives of other soldiers. It’s easier to use land lines to call in/out of state during an emergency than to call locally.


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3 years ago

My mom was in labor with me. I was born 55 minutes, after the earthquake. My grandmother nicknamed me earthquake Annie.

Joyce messing
Joyce messing
9 years ago

It was terrifying.I was in the cafeteria at Tanforan sears.The worst feeling I had was where are my children?I had to stay and make sure the store was
empty of customers, I was the manager of bed and bath. All the lamps and tvs had toppled over. Thank goodness all my children were fine. We had a trailer at the time and watched tv on the battery .