Where Were You in 1989 When the Earthquake Hit?

It was 23 years ago on Oct. 17, 1989; but some people remember it as if it had happened yesterday. Check out these comments from our Facebook page, and let us know: What are your memories of the Loma Prieta quake?

It was 23 years ago today, on Oct. 17, 1989, that the devastating 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta eartquake ripped through the Bay Area, killing more than 60 people, injuring thousands and leaving thousands more homeless.
We asked on the Napa Valley Patch Facebook page, "Where were you?" Here are some of the responses we received:

  • Jillian Risko I lived in Weaverville so I didnt feel it. But my best friend Desiree Helm her dad was Buck Helm, the man that was stuck in the collapsed overpass for 4 days!
  • Lisa Domezio At home, about to watch the baseball game. I couldn't figure out why the TV went to snow until I turned around and saw the house moving. I was 11!
  • Tanya Fairbanks I was sitting outside my house on the porch (I was 11 yrs old) and I was reading to the rocks, (yes, rocks) and the trees started to sway and I shook a little bit. I didn't know what it was.
  • Carrie Elizabeth Carlin Candlestick park. It was a scary day for a kid. It did prevent me from being afraid of another earthquake after that. The rest feel like joy rides, in comparison. I was also 11.
  • Jacqueline Turner I was working with an deaf/autistic boy named Michael Sugitan! He was signing to me minutes before the earthquake started: Let's go! Let's go! I will never forget that day! I was in utter terror!
  • Melody Harris I was 4 yrs old living in Sonoma and I was jumping on a bed with this little boy from downstairs we didn't even realize anything had happened until my parents came running in to scoop us up. (I can't say I remember any of it but that's the story that's been told to me)
  • Karen Bridewell About to leave my Aunt and Uncle's home on Arroyo Sarco in Napa after a gathering of family and friends after my Dad's funeral. Will never, ever forget!
  • Sophia Habl Mitchell I was a senior in high school and at my parent's home in Napa, just getting ready to watch the World Series Game. I was in the kitchen. I remember the house swaying and the sound of chimes in the grandfather clock going crazy from clanging together. Kind of a creepy sound, actually.
  • Ron E Titus Working in Taiwan, getting ready to watch the world series! Luckily for me, since the Cypress structure was where i would have been had i ot been in Taiwan!
  • Sara Featherstone My mom was driving me to Napa Saints cheer practice...so in the car!
  • James Curt Byrum I was getting ready for work on the Wine Train!
  • Heidi Rutland i don't remember that sucks
  • Kristina Dalton I was in the Alpha Beta grocery store (where Walmart now on Lincoln ave), my brother & I were playing with silly string that we hadn't yet paid for. I was 9.
  • John Vasquez I was nine years old standing in the middle of a door frame.
  • Jesus Hernandez On the Saint Helena High football field.
  • Rob Haines Standing in the lobby at Cinedome. We all thought the chandelier was coming down.
  • Amber Madison Smith Silverado Middle School getting ready for cheer leading practice for the Oilers.
  • Jesse Hunt Sr. Third deck behind home plate...
  • Crystal da Silva I was 9 years old playing in the fort my step sister and brother put together in the garage in Petaluma. My sis and I were telling our bro to stop pushing the fort but he wasn't doing it. It was the quake.
  • Vanissa Struven Outside playing with the other kids, and I ran upstairs to our apartment cause I did not know what was going on. I was 10 at the time of the 89 quake.
  • Joe Eaton I was crawling through my father's attic in Richmond (which was fifty years old), removing items so that PG&E so that they could install insullation. The whole attic started swaying back and forth dust and dirt falling on my back from the roof above me. I dove through the attic entrance and onto the floor by doing some sort of Batman inspired backflip and landing straight up (which I would not even TRY to reproduce today). My sister was very worried. She grabbed her 10 month old son Thomas and dove under a sturdy table, slamming his poor little head on the top as they slipped under. I told her "It was just a tremor Dianna. Don't worry about it." We turned on the TV - nothing but static on all channels. Eventually the TV got a signal. The first thing it showed was the Bay Bridge. My sister was worried sick for her husband, whom she knew was on his way home from SF, over that very bridge. Fortunately, he got over the bridge just before the quake hit. He as at the turn where Ikea is now. He told us when he got home that it felt like he had a flat tire. Then he realized everyone was stopping. It was NOT a good time.
  • Karen Lynn Ingalls In a second floor apartment in Salinas, just home from work, thinking they would be digging me out of the rubble....
  • Kellie Fuller I was at work on Clinton Street in Napa. It was a clothing store attached to a shoe store. We all ran to a doorway between the two stores and held on to each other so we wouldn't fall. The cars were bouncing up and down outside, we could see the road lifting, and the chandelier in the store was shaking. I thought the building was going to come down. Had to wait a long time before we could find out if our family members in SF were ok. VERY SCARY TIME! But thankfully, we were all fine. My great aunt lost her home in the SF fire though. 
  • Mary Loomis Ayers 22nd floor of Embacadero 3 in the Financial District.
  • Michelle Lesko-Freese Red Cross building on Jefferson Street teaching a babysitting class to a room of 12 years old who wanted to stand in front of plate glass window and watch the street roll instead of getting under the tables!
  • Bev Saxon Leonard I was on the 4th story of a building on Mission Street in San Francisco. It was very scary.
  • Dani Forsey Brown Palby's Restaurant in American Canyon...I thought someone was kicking the back of my seat.

Where were you on Oct. 17, 1989? Tell us in the comments.

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Scott Yeager October 17, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I was at work in Capitola. The store where I worked at faced Loma Prieta and you looked right at it as you walked out the entrance. I would say we were about 8 miles from the epicenter. I dove under the counter and held drawers out to cover up my legs because the space was too small for me to pull myself under completely for protection. It's the only time I was ever scared in an earthquake. You could feel it and hear it at the same time, like a rumble/roar, both physical and auditory effect. We didn't have power for days and I remember some of my co-workers right after the quake wanted to try and get through the wreckage in the store to the back so they could collect their belongings and I told them not to go anywhere because of the aftershocks. They weren't aware that they would be coming and it only took 5 minutes for the the first one. They were almost as bad the original quake. They were coming on a regular basis that night and most people slept outside whatever way they could. I don't remember much actual sleeping by me and the others I was with. There were a lot of scared people. I lived in downtown Santa Cruz so I couldn't get to my apartment for days. The downtown was a disaster. Rubble everywhere and no one was allowed to get in to it. My friend worked downtown and walked down Pacific Ave about 10 minutes after the quake and he said it was surreal, with piles of rubble and clouds of dust floating in the air and the aftershocks created more as he walked.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) October 17, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Wow, what a picture! I was in Massachusetts, totally freaking out, imagining my friends in San Francisco covered with rubble. They were OK but we couldn't call them for days.
Joanna W. October 17, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Did anyone else just felt the (potential) earthquake? 3:42pm today? Any reports?
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) October 17, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Nothing in California on the USGS site since 4:30 this morning when there was a 2.5 down near Hollister. And Maine had a 4.0 yesterday!
Joanna W. October 17, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Thanks, Louisa!
Stephanie R. Cole October 18, 2012 at 01:39 AM
I was outside at a cafe in downtown Davis with friends discussing of all things the existence or not of God.... the discussion was lively as would be suspected...at one point I started feeling nauseous, I excused myself to go to the rest room then after walking a few feet the nausea stopped and the ground rolled... I instantly knew it was S.F. so I ran home to call my parents... I got through to my younger sister and we talked for an hour. I tried to calm her down until my parents came home... I'm still an agnostic but whoa!!!
Elaine Hearne October 18, 2012 at 04:29 AM
I was putting filled icetrays in my fridge, which was right by the door. I'd already seen every bird fly up simultaneously from the backyard tree, as my 2 dogs almost ran into each other, trying to run from their respective locations. I heard a low rumble, which got louder as I watched backyard fences waving in a crazy pattern that worked its way up the street. There was a loud <<CRACK>> as my own fence joined the dance. As the floor began to move, I threw the icetrays in the freezer. I was already in the doorway, so stayed put & held on. My window moved in & out, like it was breathing. I heard my sister screaming "EEEE!!! IT'S THE BIG ONE!!! WE GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE!! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!" as she threw her door open. I heard her start down the stairs, falling as she lost her footing halfway down. My radio went silent. Then, suddenly, the quake stopped. All was eerily still & silent, except for several car alarms. My family compared notes in the livingroom, glad that we were all ok.
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau October 18, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Lived by Yountville. Just walked in the back door with a HUGE plate full of BBQ ribs hot off the grill (recipe now known as "Earthquake Ribs"), set them down on the TV tray with a beer, sat in my recliner and watched a highlight of Dave Henderson smack a double from the previous game. The TV screen went to a bunch of colored tiles, the leaves of the large houseplant next to me quivered and rattled, and my drunk roommate in his chair calmly said "Earthquake". I said "No way..." and tried to stand up just as the entire house jumped, nearly knocking me to my feet. I stood and swayed with the house, watching the dining room chandelier swing enough to hit the ceiling. Roommate took a long pull off his beer, then said "You should go check out the pool." I did, and I strongly suggest watching a swimming pool after a 6.7 quake, it will blow your mind. When I came back inside TV was back on with aerial shots of fires, bridges, and freeways. Roommate had scarfed about half my BBQ ribs, belched and said, "Dammit, there goes the game."
Kevin October 18, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I was stopped at the corner of Adeline and West Grand in Oakland, getting ready to turn on to the Cypress freeway onramp. After bouncing around the intersection for what seemed like forever, dodging chimneys and broken power lines, I looked at the freeway and it was just gone...
Ray Sisemore October 18, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I was at the World Series game in Candlestick Park with my one of my best buds. He being an A's fan and I a Giant fan. We had settled in our upper deck seats awaiting the start of the game when the place began to shake. I literally had to hold on to the seat arm rests to stay in my seat. It wasn't until the police cars started circling in the outfield that we knew something (major earthquake) had happened. The police used the PA systems of the vehicles to give out directions since the power was out to the stadium. Someone sitting next to me had a TV set and it was blank for awhile then the first thing to come up was a shot of the Bay Bridge and the collapsed section with cars driving off in to it. Rumors started swirling around that the Golden Gate Bridge had also collapsed. My buddy and I drove south on Hwy 101 until we heard a report on the radio that the GGB was o.k. so we turned around and headed back to Napa via 101 North. The city was totally dark except for the occasional hospital w/emergency generators and the glow of the Marina District fire. It took us 8 hours to get home.
Michele Dahlberg October 18, 2012 at 05:13 PM
At work in Berkeley in a lab. The company had a large spill of caustic materials (sodium silicate) and this cute guy who worked in the environmental industry came to clean it up, asked me out. We will have been married for 20 years in May :)
Mary Richardson October 18, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I was riding in a funky borrowed car on Rohnert Park Expressway. All of a sudden we felt the car shudder, and the guy behind us pulled over. We thought for sure something was going terribly wrong with the car... but then we noticed everyone was pulling over!
Scott Yeager October 18, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I am glad somebody got something good out of it!
Tom Ontis October 18, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I was living in Sactto, running into the house with an armful of groceries getting ready to watch Game 3. Didn't feel much of it, then my neighbors told me they saw the swimming pool spalshing from side to side. I got into the house and turned on the TV just as the first pictures of that section of the Bay B ridge that came down were being shown. They closed down Sac State and sent everybody home for a couple of days, wanted to check for buiding safety. My now wife was working in Mountain View, was thrown against a wall 6 times, suffered back injuries, spent a couple of weeks in the hospital. She gets melancholy every year at this time.
Wendy McCall October 22, 2012 at 07:38 PM
i had just gotten off work and was sitting in my car on Lincoln Ave. just west of Main Street. All of a sudden it felt like I was on a roller coaster. I had been listening to the radio, which was dead for a couple minutes. When it came back on they were reporting that the Bay Bridge had fallen into the bay - fortunately that was not the case!!
vocal-de-local October 25, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Nice to see you on the Patch, Kevin. Sounds as though it was a close call for you.


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