It’s hard to believe almost 20 years have passed since the Loma Prieta quake, it seemed like only yesterday. To this day I thank the lord that I was too lazy to get up when my alarm rang at 5:00 p.m., otherwise my son and I would have found ourselves under the rubble at Ford’s. I remember feeling a bit queasy, then came the first jolt, roll, and shake. At first I tried to be cool, telling myself it would be over soon, but when it didn’t I remember looking out my second floor bedroom window and seeing the levee roll up and down like a wave, and the bridge connecting to the Boardwalk had a life of its own. Of course, the phones were down, my first thought was of my nieces and nephews who lived on the other side of the bridge on lower Ocean.
After seeing they were okay, and when my sister and brother-in-law arrived, we went on to check on my boss and her husband. Again, all was well, so we went home to try to figure out what to do. My sister’s house was destroyed, so everyone stayed at our place. I remember the National Guard at our doorstep, delivering cases of water (in soda bottles?) and asking if we were all okay. The aftershocks kept us up all night, but at least we were alive, and together.
I applaud Safeway on the west side for stepping up to the occasion, like schoolchildren we were given paper bags, pens and were instructed to put down the prices of the items in our baskets, then the checkers rang up our purchases on hand held calculators. The gas line was unbelievable, but again everyone worked together to get though what will probably be the biggest disaster many of us would live to tell about.
On the third day, my children wanted to go back home (Stockton), so we loaded up the car with all of our valuables, and my brother came to help us navigate our way out of Santa Cruz County. I remember thinking this was not a very good idea, but my children’s safety and state of mind were my biggest concern. Unfortunately, somewhere near Morgan Hill we hit something, the tires blew and the next thing I knew my brother and son were trying to get me out of the car. My daughter was ejected out the back window and broke her arm. Unfortunately, I sustained some very serious physical injuries and spent the next 7 days at the San Jose Trauma Center.
I have lived in California all of my life, but I will always remember the ’89 quake, not only for its magnitude, but for the impact it made on my family’s life. We returned to Santa Cruz and my son still makes it his home today.
By Rose Tafoya