Coming from the Midwest, the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake was quite a phenomenon. Earthquakes, unlike tornadoes and snow storms, cannot be predicted; they just happen. Such was the case with the Big One – the ’89 Earthquake. I think people in the Bay Area and around the world can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing at 5:04 p.m. on October 17th.

My husband was at Candlestick Park at the World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. He said it was interesting to watch the reaction of people from out of town versus those from California. Once the quake hit and the shaking ended, the locals were all ready for the game to begin. It didn’t matter to them that the lights were on battery and television coverage was suspended. It was just another day in the neighborhood as they say.

The out-of-towners were running from their seats to the parking lot and getting out of there as quickly as possible. My husband called on my car phone (no cell phones at that time) to let me know he was safe and how he would make it home.

I, on the other hand, had just completed teaching a class for Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto and was getting ready to drive out of the parking lot. I looked left and saw this pick-up truck bouncing on its wheels. I thought the kids in the truck were having a great fun until I noticed there was no one in the truck. Then, I felt the movement of the ground below me. Wow – what a ride! Still, I was not concerned as I had nothing to compare it to in magnitude.

In trying to get home, I was turned away at two bridges and the third bridge had a section collapse and was not viable. I turned south and went clear around the bay with the road being close d behind me for unsafe conditions.

My children had been at after-school activities and luckily one of their instructors was going to take them home anyway and just stayed until I got there. The girls remember the swings swinging with no one on them and the basketball hoops and stands bending in unbelievable ways. They did watch the aftermath on television until I asked sitter to turn it off and to work on a craft project or homework instead.

The reports that were shown were horrific and devastating. We all made it home safely. School was closed the next day; my husband couldn’t get to San Francisco, and I went back to Palo Alto because I was not on the corporate telephone tree. I left pretty quickly after arrival as the building was not safe.

Where ever you were on October 17, 1989, what do you u remember? I would love to know.

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Linda Patten, MBA, BSN, RN has over 30 years of experience leading women to success in building and achieving their dreams. She turns networking marketing women from product sellers to leaders of highly functioning teams. To learn more about her innovative programs, click on Contact Us.