30 YEARS AGO: Where were you when the 1989 earthquake struck the Bay Area?
In 1989, an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck Northern California, killing 63 people and causing $6 billion worth of damage. The Union asked readers to share their memories of the moment, and that day. Here are some of the more than 250 responses posted at The Union’s Facebook page:
Lisa Bearden-Trisler — In South Lake Tahoe. Walked into a pet store and the bird cages were swinging. When I found out it was in the Bay Area I thought the shelf must have broke off.
Leon Hunter Jr. — I was living in West Oakland in the Acorn Apts working in Richmond decided not to go straight home that day otherwise I would have been in the middle of this. The Lord spared me that day.
Jen Strange — I’ll never forget that day! I was in Sheridan training my horse for a big jumping competition we had coming up. All of a sudden he started acting up, bucking, snorting, staring off into space and just generally being a brat to my eyes. So I cooled him off and put him back in his stall. I walked up to my trainer’s house, where they were watching TV. That’s when they told me the Bay Bridge had just collapsed in an earthquake! My horse felt the quake, I didn’t.
Tami Mc Daniel King — I was living in San Francisco. I stayed home from work because I wasn’t feeling well … my office building was red tagged! Very scary time!
Liz Lynch — Under my desk in my office on Broadway between VanNess and Polk!
Melissa Williams — I was at the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. Wow what a day. I’ll never forget.
Rhoda Blankenship — I was working at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital when I drove to NU football practice to pick up my kids from my husband, Coach Blankenship. He told me there had been an earthquake and SF had major damage. It seemed so eerie. It was hard to believe.
Lisa Price — In a parking lot in San Jose. Wondering if I should get closer to a brick wall or jump onto a bouncing car.
Penny Mores — I was in Colfax, cleaning out my car. I felt it.
Sherry Panick — At work at Borland in Scotts Valley —when I was able to leave the building, the wallpaper was peeled off the walls. Driving back into Santa Cruz a huge plume off smoke was coming from downtown. So scary!
Tony Dove — Sherry Panick, we were neighbors; I lived in the old KOA campground right on 17 next to Santa’s village during the quake.
Bill LaFlaur — In Monterey, lying in bed reading. The fish tank started falling on me. I shoved it and ran outside; it was an old fisherman shack on Pearl Street, built on stilts. Ooh boy.
Domenica Mottarella — I was at St. Joseph’s in Grass Valley; upstairs in an art studio and the entire building tumbled like a freight train. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on.
Carole Pratt — In SF at work. I was figuring my building to collapse. It didn’t. It was one scary few minutes. Took seven hours to get home to the East Bay. Ex-husband was on the Bay Bridge when it collapsed but made it across to pick me up from work.
Sherri Wickersham Tucker — Carole Pratt, scary … I can’t imagine the mayhem going on in the city with the panic and everyone trying to flee.
Trudy Reynolds — We were in our moving truck on I-80, in about Ohio, moving from the Bay Area to Virginia Beach.
Anna Pena Rohaly — I was finishing up paperwork before heading home from work. I was so into what I was doing, when one of the guys in the office literally tackled me under a desk. Then I realized we were shaking and some of the ceiling tiles were coming down.
Doreen Clemons — I was getting ready to watch the World Series. Then the screen went black. Then my mom who just flew out there that morning asked me if San Francisco was still there. I said what? Then she told about the earthquake. Sad day in the Bay Area.
Michael Clemmons — Doreen Clemons, me too! Left work early. I lived in Sacramento at the time. Never felt anything. Still waiting for the big one.
Lynne Ashton — I was living in Fair Oaks and worked in Penryn. But my soon to be husband was on BART under the Bay, thankfully. If he had driven into work that day he would have been on the bridge.
Roger England — Alameda! Think “liquefaction!” Heard the Cypress collapse, didn’t know what it was.
Kathy Williams — Sitting in the Fox & Goose pub in downtown Sacramento. We felt it all the way there. I thought I’d had too much to drink, but I only had two sips of my pint at that point.
Diana Runnels — In the air on my way from Boston to SF for a friend’s wedding. Landed in Denver, unable to land at SFO. Spent the night in a hotel watching the news and trying to connect with family. Continued travel the next day, landing in a deserted SFO.
Brent Andrew Körner — I was on the East Coast, 5 years old. Remember seeing it on TV all day, every day. Left an impression. Now I live out here. Didn’t think that through I guess. ✌️
Jeanette Sherwood LaChambre — I was pregnant with my son, living in Fremont. It was pretty scary that day! It was also the day I chose to move from the Bay Area!
Lori Burkart Frank — Business trip to Chicago, living in San Jose at the time. It was so interesting to me how many people I knew who lived in the Bay Area and were out of town, and how many people I knew who did not live there and just happened to be there for work when the earthquake happened.
Stacey Houlihan — Living in Sunnyvale. Remember everyone who had a pool, including us, watching the water go over the fence and down the street. Also remembering being in fear having to stop under any light that was underneath a freeway.
Katrina Schneider — Oct. 17, 1989 … at the World Series at Candlestick with my family! The earth rolls across the field were in fact quite gorgeous … and I was mainly in awe. That is until someone shoved me to the ground trying to escape (we were under a huge concrete second level). Any longer than 17 seconds, there sadly would have been serious trampling issues. My dad filled the car right next to Jose Canseco outside the ball park. We drove home via the city (dropping my sister off near the Marina). It took four hours to get to Lafayette! I returned to my college apartment a few days later … hearing the search for survivors at the I-880. I went to the epicenter the following weekend in the Santa Cruz mountains with my UCB Geology class!
Terrie Collins — It was our 30th anniversary and we WERE going to go out to dinner … instead we stuck by the TV to watch the tragic event.
Debbie Rosatelli Clark — I so remember this day. I was home. I lived in San Jose at the time. My youngest daughter was in dance class. It was the day before she turned 11 so we always remember the anniversary of this earthquake.
Angela Watson — Kinda creepy considering the Bay Area has been having small earthquakes the past few days.
Mary Richter Woolheater — I was at a school board meeting in Petaluma. We ducked under the large table. Our children were walking home from after school activities. It was felt very strongly in Petaluma. We had a grandmother clock that never worked. After a good shaking it started working and continues to work to this day.
Angel Humble — I attended a private school in Watsonville, MVC; the school had major damage. My dad was stationed in Korea and called right at 5:00; during our talk the earth moved, the walls rolled, the ground shook side to side and rolled. I remember like it was yesterday.
Dorothy Goodnow — We were living in the Oakland hills at the time. I had just gotten home from work in Alameda. Called my parents in New Jersey as soon as it stopped. Still amazed I got through. We had a small battery operated TV at the time so we were able to watch the footage of the aftermath. We could also see the Marina fires from our deck. Very eerie since that was the only light coming from San Francisco.
Monica Dorbandt Hughes — Chico State, freaking out about all our friends and family in the Bay.
Linda Fiorelli — In my house in Mission Viejo. My husband’s first day of commuting to Memphis was the following day. He called the station manager in Oakland to see if he could bring/do anything.
Phyllis LeBard — Working at Stanford, hiding under a desk as I watched huge case of heavy binders tumble over the office.
Denise Coate Harvey — We lived in Incline Village at Tahoe. We, too, were watching the World Series. I felt the kitchen roll!
Kristi Ferry — At my after-school job (CopyRight in the Brunswick basin) watching items hanging from the ceiling sway ever so slightly.
Hildy Langewis — Went to Danville to watch the World Series at a friend’s house. If it had not been for the series I would have been at the East Bay Vivarium getting food for my snake. I would’ve been on or under the Cypress Structure, which collapsed.
Eleanore MacDonald — We lived on Banner in our very solid log house. The whole house groaned and shook.
Marguerite Vulfs — We lived on Banner too and our home swayed. I was taking a nap and Marija was playing in her room when she started calling me “Mommy my toys are jumping.” Southern California earthquake drills when younger immediately went into play. They call it Banner LAVA CAP for a reason.
Mary Anne Hughes Davis — My in-laws had just returned home from a trip to Reno. They lived 3 miles from the epicenter in Aptos. We couldn’t reach them for hours to know they were safe. It was a very scary night. They were fine, some broken dishes and bookshelves toppled, but otherwise fine.
Mary Barrett-Hall — I was born and raised in California — starting from Southern California to Northern California — and have experienced quite a few California earthquakes. I just recently have moved to Idaho at the urging of my children who have lived in Idaho for quite a few years … and anyway, I just moved into a new home and I’m still going through boxes and I came across the box of saved important papers and of course one of them was all about the big earthquake of Oct. 17, 1989!
Bri Harris — Santa Cruz, checking out of our hotel after my mom’s wedding rings were stolen out of our Bronco while we were at the beach. It wasn’t a good day!
Annette Wicksten-Fordyce — I just walked into da care in Manteca and immediately found the kids. I worked in Livermore and knew many people affected by the earthquake. It was horrible for my friends waiting to find out if their loved ones were OK.
Jackie Lenz — In San Rafael watching Bay series, I was 14 and home alone in our redwood home. The hallway rolled towards me while the house swayed back and forth. Later I’d travel to LA for the big one there. Last night I was in Marin for the 4.7
LeeAnn Greer — My friend, Ruth and I were in Phoenix for a conference and as we walked into the Biltmore hotel someone said the Berkeley library is on fire. We quickly found a TV and spent the whole evening watching and calling friends to see if they were OK. Very sad time.
Katie O’Rourke — I was working in an orthopedic office in Berkeley and the X-ray table rolled back and forth and my shoes clicked on the floor 3 or 4 times. Took Fish Ranch Road to Walnut Creek. Very scary day.
Kathleen Horner — Was working in a bank in Santa Clara. Still don’t know how I got under my desk so quickly! And, it took 45 minutes to travel the mile or so I commuted home.
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