An independent umbrella group that supports Palo Alto neighborhoods
ashakeout stories Mark Meyers
October 17th, 1989 I was working for the City of Palo Alto Community Services Division at Jordan Middle School (Greene). I was off work at about 5pm and driving down Middlefield just past Oregon expressway south bound. As I approached Webster street , right across from Co-Op market, my vehicle started to sway back and forth. I thought, why are my tires flat? I had 4 new tires and this is bad. So I pulled over onto Webster and got out of my vehicle and noticed a woman coming out of her house screaming with a baby in her arms. The whole street was like waves and you could see these waves rolling down the street. As I realized it was an earthquake, I spoke with the lady to calm her down and let her know she is safe outside of her home. I also let her know this is a pretty large earthquake and there will be aftershocks. Check your gas main, around the outside of your house and be aware of your surroundings. She was happy I was there and thanked me. I turned around and headed to my Parents house, dad was at work and mom was home alone. When I arrived on Garland drive, I found my mom visibly shaken. She held up the grandfather clock that dad built that was on its way to tipping. She was glad I dropped by and was doing just fine afterwards, the clock was safe and she was OK.
Then I started my way home down Middlefield Road towards Mountain View. All of the power was out and I was basically stuck in traffic for 3 hours getting home a couple miles away. Thank goodness there was drinking water in my car and an energy bar. This sustained me through the ordeal of waiting to get home.
When I arrived at my home, there was no power, and I was the only one in the neighborhood that had a battery operated TV, we all watched in awe , the Bay Bridge section collapsed. The Cypress structure collapsed, the Marina fire. All of this was going on and we survived.
I went back to work the next couple days and we were assigned to hand out fliers to residents in Palo Alto regarding chimney safety after earthquakes. Never knew that would be my first disaster response, and not my last.