45 years ago today, I was 18 years old, 9 months pregnant, and had just been awoken by the alarm clock going off at 6 AM.
One minute later, at 6:01, an earthquake jolted the Los Angeles area, its epicenter approximately 30 miles from where I was just waking up.
Dishes fell from the kitchen cabinets with a loud racket, light fixtures fell loose from the ceiling, hanging only by their electrical wires, items on shelves throughout our duplex apartment tumbled onto the floor in broken heaps. The window blinds broke loose from the window frames. The bed I was still lying in seemed to be riding the waves of the ocean as it leapt across the floor, stopped only by the wall it came to rest against. The shaking seemed as if it would never stop, although it only lasted twelve seconds.
I don’t remember much of the details of the days that immediately followed that quake; I went into labor that night and was admitted to the hospital amid major aftershocks that shook the building constantly. I do, however, remember asking the nurse, as I was being admitted, if this hospital was going to fall down, too (there were several hospitals in the area with major damage from collapses and a number of people died). She assured me that no, it was not. I’m not sure it did much for my confidence in building construction, though, because the aftershocks kept coming, for days.
The funny thing is that Mark was actually due the day he was born.
To this day, I still don’t place my bed under a window; I still check out the exits when I enter a room, especially a public area; I still don’t like to walk close to the buildings on a sidewalk and if the buildings are unreinforced masonry, I’d rather be walking in the street.
It was a rockin’ rollin’ time for sure…
For more pics, google Sylmar Earthquake and click on images. The photos are a reminder of the power of Mother Nature and that each day we are here is a gift.
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The short stats:
- 6.6 on the Richter scale
- 12 seconds in duration
- along a 12-mile long section of the fault line
- 64 deaths
- 2,500 injuries
- $550 million in damages
- 3 hospitals damaged
- at least 12 freeway bridges collapsed