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Loma Prieta

17 October 2009



This may seem like a random post. What’s Loma Prieta got to do with buzzing about David Archuleta? But for me, it isn’t any more random than the 1989 earthquake itself. Earthquakes may be shockers, but the Earth knows they are not random. The Earth has business to take care of deep in its crust.

All of us human beings must cope with shocks of one kind or another. It might help us to learn from the Earth, how she makes necessary adjustments, “course corrections,” to keep on rotating around the Sun. As one of David’s songs says, “I’ll move from where I began | Keep on pressing through to the end.”

SanfranciscoTwenty years have passed since the Loma Prieta earthquake. Measuring 6.9 and named for the peak near its epicenter in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it may not have been "the Big One" that we’ve been expecting since 1906, but, at fifteen seconds, it was the longest quake I had experienced. Even though Loma Prieta lasted too long for anyone’s comfort, at least it was a well-timed quake. It hit at 5:04 PM just as the 1989 World Series game between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, called the Battle of the Bay, was about to start. If not for that game, many more people would have been on the roadways.

The quake shook up the San Francisco Bay Area in more ways than one. Many of the changes have been great. Gone is the unsightly Embarcadero Freeway, a double-decker which produced ugly shadows on the streets below. The Embarcadero today is a palm tree-lined boulevard that sets an appropriate stage for the historic Clock Tower and the Bay itself. The Clock Tower building is now one of my favorite places.

The City has completed many improvements, while other projects are still underway. The upper deck of the Bay Bridge collapsed during the quake; it was repaired in sixty days by a nonstop work schedule.

San Francisco after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake:

I wish I could say that I’m ready for the next earthquake. True, I have read about being prepared, and I have stored food, blankets, and medicines in the garage, but no matter what I do, I’m probably going to be shocked by the next quake. Today I’m shocked that Loma Prieta was 20 years ago!

How does this relate to David Archuleta? Well, this morning it occurred to me that David was not even born—his zygote would not erupt for another five months—when Loma Prieta shook up the Bay Area on October 17, 1989. It’s interesting how time changes one’s perspective.

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