My heart goes out to all those affected by the earthquake today. Having lived in Los Angeles, I have been through my share of them.
They are not fun.
What is so frightening about earthquakes is that they come out of nowhere. When they start shaking, you have no idea how bad they are going to be. I have felt those that start with a strong jolt and then peter out. Then there are those that start slow and build to a crescendo. Most are smaller ones and they feel like a heavy truck rumbling by close to your house.
I haven’t lived in Los Angeles for almost 10 years and where I am now isn’t as susceptible to earthquakes although they could occur just about anywhere a fault exists. But when a truck rumbles by and the floor shakes a bit, I still freeze for a moment.
The worst one I was in occurred at 4:30am on Monday January 17, 1994. It was Martin Luther Kings Day.
This was a rare quake in that I knew from the moment it started shaking it would be bad. I knew because my electricity went out a millisecond before it started shaking.
If you have never experienced an earthquake, the most surprising thing is how loud they are. Imagine everything you own and even the windows shaking and you can start to understand why they are so loud.
It was pitch black once the electricity went out and all I could hear was everything shaking and falling. It seemed to have lasted forever. I got out my phone (the cheap one that doesn’t require electricity to use) and sat out in the courtyard to call my family to let them know I was alright.
To me, that was the most frightening time because the ground just constantly vibrated from aftershocks.
It is amazing the amount of damage that can occur in 25 seconds. On my apartment building all the windows facing east and west were broken (which logically speaking means the quake shook north to south I would guess).
I was lucky, even though so much had fallen to the ground in my apartment, only a bottle of wine and a mug actually broke. But there was quite a bit of devastation along Hollywood Blvd.
But the freeway collapse were crippling. The Antelope Freeway (the 14) collapsed at the merge with the 5, the main artery up to the Bay area. Although they quickly went to work to repair it, the interruption in traffic and the detours were crippling. Also the 10 freeway collapse was catastrophic for traffic causing massive traffic jams on the surface streets.
My heart goes out to New Zealand.