The day started typically enough, the usual Indian summer type weather, warm, dry, clear skies. It was a day the whole Bay Area was looking forward to, because the World Series would be hosted by the two baseball teams of the Bay Area, the Giants & the A’s. The A’s would go on to sweep the Giants.
For me, it wasn’t about waiting to see the game, because I had to go to work at 7Up, 1027 Rosedale Ave, Capitola; after attending school at Cabrillo. I can remember when the quake first hit. It seemed in a sort of slow motion. The first thing I noticed was the initial shock & sound. I froze in my stance, at the entry way of the warehouse, first viewing the ground, as the waves moved through the ground, moving the dust in a uniform manner. I looked to the freeway, noticing all the cars stopping, presumably due to not knowing that there was a quake, but that something was wrong with their vehicles. I looked to the tree line, noticing the grove of eucalyptus shaking like pom-poms, but in a most violent way imaginable. The 7Up trucks, back from their deliveries & lined up for loading for the next day, were shaking in place. I looked up to the top of the warehouse, from the base where I was standing, watching it sway from a normal form, to a trapezoid numerous times. My boss was standing in his doorway, braced within the door frame, holding tight. As the quake was subsiding, I noticed a mobile home, in the park next door, had fallen from its foundation of metal stands. The only damage the warehouse suffered was a broken board in its roof structure & the raise door having two of its bolts broken.
As we were getting our sorts together & the three of us at the plant were putting ourselves together, we were still in a state of shock. The boss, who didn’t live that far away, needed to check in on his family & said he would return. The fellow coworker & I were working toward getting the product that had fallen moved away enough to stuff what delivery trucks we could get into the warehouse. It then dawned on me that a friend, who was a nanny, was playing with the family’s children in front of a large plate glass window, where I had left her when I dropped her off after school. I figured I should make the 3 mile drive back to their house, to see if they were alright. When I got there, the mother & the friend, the nanny, were cleaning up glass; not from the window, thankfully. I then drove back to the warehouse.
As we were finishing up with the warehouse, as I was back working with the coworker, the boss drove up & we hastily got the warehouse secured. We were asked to return the next day & shore things up in a better manner.
As I was driving back home, I could see the spot fires from the broken gas lines. At times, they could be heard breaking & the sound of high pressure gas escaping; the line could usually be turned off relatively quickly. At this time, there was no power, but within 24 hours, remarkably, power would be mostly restored. I had stopped about ½ mile from home, upon seeing a fire, smelling natural gas. There was a woman whom was standing outside, looking on. She was calm. I mentioned that she shouldn’t be around the gas & that is all one can do; get away from it. She wanted to stay there, at her home to battle the elements. All the traffic lights were out & the homeless were out in the intersections, directing traffic. As I arrived home, I was greeted by neighbors.
As I was talking to my neighbors, they asked me if I had been at my home yet. They were sharing with me their experiences of what to expect upon entering; it was more than I expected. Surprisingly, the stereo rack, with a system purchased in 1977, that I still have, even on this 25th year of the ’89 quake, was still intact. The only victim of the system was that a 70 pound reel to reel, fell on its reel side, but weighted down the base enough so it didn’t fall completely over. The reel to reel still hasn’t been the same though. The water dispenser & its 5 gallon glass carboy were broken, along with a plate. The only injury I would receive from the ordeal was a cut finger cleaning up the glass.
As the night had mostly kept in & I was exhausted from the activity, all I could do was to crawl into bed & fall to sleep; a deep sleep. I didn’t hear a thing that first night, after the quake. The following nights wouldn’t be escaping me so easily, or the next day.
By Jeff Mick
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