a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Loma Prieta Quake--More

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Loma Prieta Quake--More

SUMMARY: I said there'd be more, and photos, too, so here ya go.

At 5:00 that day, business was winding down on a bright October afternoon. I was in my company's glass-walled demo room with two other people, finishing a demo of our computers for a client from Texas. Suddenly, the floor started moving, then heaving. I looked around--glass walls everywhere. You're not supposed to stand near glass. Only one small table. Only one solid wall, lined by computers. I slipped between the computers and the wall. Being demo computers, they were on wheels, so I braced myself against the wall as the computers rolled out and back, out and back, trying to smash my in my "safe" location.

"What is it? What's happening?" said the client from Texas, crouched in the middle of the floor to keep from being knocked off her feet. "It's an earthquake," we said, and, being good Californians, waited for it to pass. It went on much longer than we had expected, but still not REALLY that long, and we came out from our assorted hiding places laughing a bit.

In our sunny room, we didn't realize that the power had gone out. The room also held up marvelously well, apparently; as we brushed ourselves off, stampedes of people plummeted down the stairs from the upper floor in barely contained disorder, stunned looks on their faces. That's when we realized that something truly out of the ordinary had occurred.

Security and management hustled everyone out to the parking lot, where we stood around helplessly--all of our wallets, purses, car keys remained in our offices in the building. Eventually, as the aftershocks came less often and reduced in intensity, management chaperoned us back into the building six at a time to hurriedly grab only our most important items and then return to our cars.

I've posted photos and other memorabilia, with commentary, on this SmugMug gallery.

This USGS map shows the intensity of shaking that people felt. The star is the epicenter. I was working and living above the star, below the "N" in "San Jose". (Click on the image here to go the the USGS site for an interactive map and access to other maps for other quakes.)


  1. That is some groovy wallpaper in the bathroom. My husband would be seriously jealous.

    I took a course in Earthquake Engineering and the professor had been asked out to Loma Prieta because of his particular expertise so he had lots of pictures of the seriously damaged buildings to show us. Most of the buildings that suffered the worst damage were older structures that had not yet been retrofitted for the newer seismic codes.

  2. A year or two later, I was SOOOO tired of that wallpaper (it came with the house) that I tore it off the walls and they went naked like that (unpainted, unpapered) for years.

    Damage--yup, most damage on more solid ground was to old, unreinforced masonry buildings. Most of the rest of the damage was to structures on landfill and other deep, loose alluvial soil, so liquefaction occurred and the bases of the structures just sank when what had been solid-appearing ground turned liquid.