Where Were You on October 17th, 1989?

Loma Prieta MapAlmost everyone who lived in the Bay Area in late ’89 remembers where they were and what they were doing when the Loma Prieta (aka World Series) Earthquake hit.

This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the event. The following is an edited excerpt from the official USGS website on the quake.

“On October 17, 1989, at 5:04:15 p.m. (PDT), a magnitude 7.1 earthquake severely shook the San Francisco and Monterey Bay regions. The epicenter was located near Loma Prieta peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, approximately 9 miles northeast of Santa Cruz and 60 miles south-southeast of San Francisco.”

“The earthquake occurred when the crustal rocks comprising the Pacific and North American Plates abruptly slipped as much as 7 ft along their common boundary-the San Andreas fault system.”

The World Series Earthquake was the first major quake to be captured on live TV, because of the coverage of the warm up for Game 3 between the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants.

Aerial view of collapsed sections of the Cypress Viaduct of Interstate 880. [H.G. Wilshire, U.S. Geological Survey]The catastrophe left bridges broken, freeways buckled, the Cypress Structure collapsed and thousands homeless. Miraculously, only 63 people lost their lives that day, despite early reports of hundreds or even thousands dead.

Now, 20 years later we revisit the events and aftermath of that awful day.

Why, you say? Because “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana) Which begs the question, are you prepared for the next “Big One”?

If you already have an earthquake kit, now is the time to replace your water, canned goods and batteries as well as making sure any prescription or non-prescription drugs haven’t expired. Also, be sure your important documents are up to date.

Stansport Earthquake/Survival Family Kit with Carry CaseIf you don’t have earthquake preparedness kit, just click on the link to read an article from SFGate.com on creating your own kit, or you can download a PDF copy of the article I made for you here.

Alternatively, you can purchase ready made kits at stores such as Buy.com or REI. Consider one kit for the home, one for each car and one for the office.

Even if the “Big One” doesn’t hit any time soon, winter is approaching and it’s just as important to be prepared for power outages, blocked roads or flash floods. Having these preparedness kits can make life much easier in these circumstances, and it’s cheap insurance for your family.

Gas Shutoff ValveDo you have an Automatic Gas Shutoff Valve installed? Contra Costa County now requires that all new construction and homes in unincorporated areas of the county have one of these valves installed.

It’s not a bad idea to have one installed on your home just in case, they only cost a few hundred dollars and shutting off your gas is one less thing you need to worry about if there is a quake or other natural disaster.

A few other things to consider. When you purchased your home, you should have received a Natural Hazard Disclosure Report. This might be a good time to dig that out and see where you stand. You may want to order an updated report, more cheap insurance. I can help you with that if you need.

Finally, are you properly insured? Most of us don’t think about our insurance until we need it. This is a perfect time to call your Agent and make sure you have the right coverage. Homeowners policy’s don’t cover earthquakes the way they used to, so it’s best to check into this. You can find out more about earthquake insurance at the California Earthquake Authority.

And remember the Boy Scouts Motto: “Be Prepared”

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