ashakeout stories Sharon Elliot

Sharon Elliot

It was 5:04 pm on October 17, 1989.  My daughter and I were standing in the laundry room folding clothes when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. 

Being a Californian, I thought I was used to earthquakes.  I was tossed off the edge of a sofa when I was a small child listening to my Dad read a story.  I’d watched water surge out of pools.  I’d seen hanging plants swing into nearby walls.  I’d felt car tires lose their grip on a city street and seen things tumble off shelves onto unforgiving floors, but this time I pictured my husband on the freeway during rush hour and that 15-or-so seconds of shaking seemed like a lifetime.

During an earthquake, one might momentarily get caught up in the awesome power of the earth before considering its destructive potential.  A few seconds after the earth started shaking, I had nightmarish visions of bridges collapsing, cars careening at high speeds, my daughter’s friends struggling at Candlestick Park.  It was one of my worst personal earthquake moments.  Yet my daughter and I were fine.  The home we were in was newly built and up to code.  The earthquake “locks” on our cabinet doors had done their jobs; there was no mess to clean up.  (Our friends in Los Gatos had a kitchen floor full of glass and cookware.  My workmate’s home in the Stanford Hills had moved off its foundation.)  

Shortly after the quake, our neighbors began gathering in the street.  We brought out chairs and tables.  Food appeared.  Someone brought out a portable TV so we could keep up with the news.  Our neighbors were safe, in a day or two, we would know more.

Sharon Elliot, NPC Adobe Meadow 

We’re all in this together