I hate earthquakes! I’ve lived right on top of the San Andreas Fault in Southern California my whole life (with the exception of 8 years in and after college) so have experienced my fair share. They are very unsettling and make me quite nervous. However, the earthquakes I’ve felt have been fairly mild; mainly 4s and 5s. The largest earthquake in SoCal in my lifetime was the January 17, 1994 “Northridge Quake” which was a 6.7 and I was not in the state for that one.
On January 16, 1994 I returned to New Hampshire for the 2nd semester of my junior year. Due to the time difference, I got to my apartment pretty late that night and just crashed. The next morning, when I woke up, my roommate had the TV on, and she told me that the news was reporting an earthquake in the Los Angeles county. I kind of shrugged it off thinking, “Yah, we have them a lot.” But when I joined her on the couch, it was apparent that this wasn’t one of our 4-5 magnitude quakes.
This is the 5 and 14 freeway interchange also known as the only way in and out of the town I live in. “Oh my god!” I blurted out, “I live there!” Complete and utter panic set in at that time. I, of course, picked up the phone and dialed home right away. Nothing but a busy signal. I tried everyone I knew. Nothing but a busy signal. In the meantime, the footage on the news was getting worse and worse. After a couple of hours I finally got a phone call from my cousin who lives in Ventura County. They felt the quake, but didn’t have any damage and their phone lines were still open. They had been in touch with my parents and they were ok, so that was a relief.
Over the next few days more and more information came in and my parents were able to contact me. Things were a mess, but everyone I knew was safe and sound.
Because of cost, my parents only brought me home from school for Christmas and for summer, but I really wanted to go home for spring break to see them. I used my credit card and got myself a ticket to fly home in March. Things had been cleaned up, but the property damage had not been repaired, waiting on the insurance. It was crazy! One of our chimneys had fallen off the house, one whole side of our brick wall had fallen onto our neighbor’s house, our fireplace facade had fallen over, and their were numerous cracks in the walls inside and outside the house. My parents had pictures of the house before things got cleaned up. Some things that really hit home happened in my bedroom. The small television that sat on the armoire across from my bed had been catapulted off the armoire onto the bed. There was also a cheap, plastic, and empty CD holder that sat on the floor against one of my walls. In the shaking, it impaled itself into the wall. Crazy!
Part of me is SO relieved that I was not there during that earthquake. Everyone said it was so scary. On the other hand, having not gone through it, I’m so dreading the next one we have because I don’t know what to expect.
There have been a lot of earthquakes recently; earthquakes in really weird places, places that aren’t known for them. Some say these quakes lessen the “pressure” on the faults, others say they are just a precursor to what’s to come, while others still say one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. Whatever they are, I don’t like it!