Here in Los Angeles, we have just celebrated the 19th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, not that there was any actual celebration. Perhaps “observed” would have been a better choice of words. Anyway, I was reading a post at http://www.thejackb.com/2013/01/17/of-earthquakes-and-music/ and suddenly it was as though it had happened just the other day.
It started out like so many earthquakes before. I was asleep and woke up with a jolt. I sat in my bed for a second, waiting to see if it would die down, before I ran to get my seven year old son. I heard things falling over, and as we headed for a doorway, a glass picture frame flew off the hallway wall. I discovered later that it had cut my backside. I remember holding onto my son as the shaking seemed to go on forever, his heart all but beating out of his chest. All of the lights were out, but you could see transformers exploding off in the distance through our dining room window. Meanwhile, you could hear the couple in the apartment below us freaking out and leaving. Once the shaking ended, we put on our shoes and jackets and joined our neighbors out in the street.
It was a surreal scene, with people sharing cell phones to call relatives and to get more information. This happened at four in the morning, so for a while we were all in the dark in more ways than one. And, of course, there were aftershocks. When daylight arrived we saw that our building had suffered a lot of damage. There were walls that had light shining through where it shouldn’t have been. My sister’s darkroom was a disaster with chemicals, pictures and negatives all tossed around, and there were dishes shattered on the counters and floor of our kitchen.
Our building was quickly red-tagged, but our landlord somehow managed to get that changed a few days later. The tenants all knew it was unsafe and most of us moved out immediately. I hope I never experience another quake as damaging as that one. I know people put up with tornados all of the time, as well as hurricanes that can be just as devastating, but I can’t imagine having to rebuild over and over again. That one crazy ride was more than enough for me.