My husband and I were living in Napa, Ca. Our one-year-old son, Matt was in his eight-sided play area. Our dog, Nikki, was asleep on the bed and Michael had just gotten back from a business meeting in San Francisco.
We were all set to watch a world series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. It was October 17, 1989. Without warning, the TV screen went black and turned to static. The dog stood up on the bed and looked around with wild eyes. Matt started to cry and Michael, who was concentrating on a business report said “Judy, would you get the dog away from my chair? She keeps bumping it and I can’t type.”
Nikki was nowhere near Michael’s chair. I leaned over to lift Matt out of the play area and got so dizzy, I thought I was going to fall over. Simultaneously Michael and I looked at each other and said “earthquake”.
We did everything wrong. I had Matt in my arms and we ran down the stairs followed by Michael and Nikki. The huge chandelier in the stairwell was swaying back and forth menacingly. We all ran out the front door just in time to see the water from our complex’ swimming pool come up over the six-foot fence and into the street.
We grabbed Matt’s stroller from the garage and began to walk through the neighborhood. The dog, Nikki, was very upset and acting crazy. Matt was wide-eyed and Michael and I clutched hands as we tried to calm down and stay safe. It took several hours before we all felt ready to go back inside. There were a few mild aftershocks but nothing damaging in our area.
We walked the perimeter of the house to make sure there was no damage and only then did we go back inside.
We turned on the TV to discover the epicenter of the earthquake was 60 miles south of San Francisco near Loma Prieta Peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 67 people were killed in the 6.9 on the Richter Scale quake. The quake caused more than $5 billion in damages.
The Cypress Street Viaduct leading to the Oakland Bay bridge that Michael had taken home hours before had been destroyed and many people were killed. The house that we had considered renting in the Marina area before we built our house was in shambles. The third story collapsed and the entire house landed on the first floor. No one was home but if we had lived there, we wouldn’t have survived.
This disaster was the decision maker that caused our family to relocate back to our hometown in Wisconsin. We had experienced several other minor earthquakes but the danger this time was too close for comfort and something we didn’t choose to relive.